When you utter the name, even the most casual of NFL fans know it. Eighty-Five constantly made the highlight reels with insane catches, while also putting the Cincinnati Bengals back on the football relevancy map and making the league much more fun with elaborate celebrations.
In this unbelievable week of interviews, press conferences and Super Bowl coverage, we were able to chat with the Bengals receiving G.O.A.T. (yeah, you’re in the mix there too, A.J.) to talk about a number of things. Chad joined us courtesy of Pepsi, as he accepted the Pepsi Zero Sugar Rookie of the Year award on behalf of another potential future G.O.A.T., Ja’Marr Chase.
“I need people to understand how difficult it is to win this award,” Johnson told us. “Normally, it’s given to the quarterbacks, if I’m not mistaken, but to be able to do it as a rookie and to do it at the magnitude that Chase did it this year is unbelievable.”
While Johnson didn’t have the explosive rookie campaign “Uno” put forth, “Ochocinco” re-wrote the Bengals’ receiving record books by becoming the team’s all-time leader in receptions (751), receiving yards (10,783) and receiving touchdowns (66). He also had six Pro Bowl nominations, three First-Team All-Pro and one Second-Team All-Pro designations in his Cincinnati career.
In terms of how Chase asserted himself immediately into the ROY conversation, Johnson had some thoughts on that, too:
“The funny thing about a football season is there’s always down moments for any receiver, you know?,” Chad told us when we touched on Chase’s summertime drops. “You have your ups, your stretch of three or four games and then you have your teams that are going to completely take you out, no matter what...”
“When he’s had to step up to the occasion, he’s done that—week in, week out, Johnson continued about Chase. “Especially with the noise in the preseason about the dropped balls—I knew that was just a bunch of...whatever. He took a year off—it doesn’t take long for the eye to get acclimated to the ball once again. It was only a matter of time before he and Joe Burrow left off in college. And, I think that’s another thing that makes it so easy for them.”
Johnson ended by calling their chemistry and connection as “WiFi”.
A little bit later, our conversation turned to the best historical Bengals receiving trios in the eyes of eighty-five. His group consisting of himself, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and the late Chris Henry comes to the top of mind, as does the current crop of Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. We also can’t forget about A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones, who put up extremely productive seasons with Andy Dalton.
When asked about his preference of the groups, we were pretty sure we knew where Chad would go. But, Ocho surprised us a bit with his answer.
“I’m thinking that I’m going to have to go with the Chase/Higgins/Boyd, simply for the fact that they’re in the Super Bowl,” Johnson surprisingly admitted. “They’re in the Super Bowl. I mean, we were great—me, T.J. and Chris were great—but, the fact that they’re in the Super Bowl, that speaks volumes.
“I mean, a lot of people argue the fact that times are different, defenses are different, it’s a passing game now, it doesn’t matter, man,” Johnson continued. “It’s how people have played the game for years and how people haven’t been able to reach this plateau of reaching the Super Bowl and just for that alone, it supersedes anything that we’ve ever done.”
There was a lot more in the chat, including some dietary chat, as it pertains to the Golden Arches, his thoughts on Mike Brown potentially winning a Lombardi Trophy and so much more.
As mentioned before, Johnson joined us courtesy of Pepsi and the Pepsi Zero Sugar Rookie of the Year Award. Pepsi has been the official soft drink of the NFL for 21 years and has been the force behind both the Rookie of the Year and Rookie of the Week awards.
Our thanks to Pepsi and to Mr. Johnson, AKA “Ochocinco” for his time with us.
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