Bold Predictions for 2012 NFL Season: Cutler Cracks a Smile, Brady Attempts the Impossible, and Eli Loses Some Weight…

Here we are…the preseason is behind us.  The regular season is before us.  And I have a few bold predictions (ten to be exact) for the 2012 NFL season:

10.  Bears Quarterback Jay Cutler will be more likable as a dad.  I didn’t say he’d be a better quarterback, but I do think fatherhood will soften his edges and make him a little more personable, or at least a little more human.  Hey, that commercial he did for The NFL Store was almost funny.  See?  It’s already working.

9.  On the other hand, fatherhood WILL make Tony Romo a better quarterback for the Cowboys.  He put a lot of pressure on himself (some deservedly) the last few seasons, but now seems happy and settled.  That will translate to the field in confidence, that he has someone to come home to…and it’s not Jessica Simpson.

8.  We will discover that Rex Ryan is a better coach when he’s overweight.  Maybe it’s the diet.  It’s possible he’s a little light-headed these days.  I mean, claiming this is the best Jets team he’s ever coached?  That may be more bold than his pre-preseason Superbowl predictions.  He must be seeing something in practice that we’re not.  Namely…touchdowns.

7.  We will learn why no one wants to coach (or play) in Miami.  If you watched Hard Knocks, you’re already half way there.

6.  We will discover that there was indeed something magical about Peyton Manning’s hands under Jeff Saturday’s butt.  Both will have decent seasons, but neither will be able to replicate what they had together in Indianapolis.  Seeing as they’re both playing in outside stadiums now, that’s mostly warm hands and a warm butt.

5.  Tim Tebow will become the starter for the New York Jets.  I don’t know when, but it will happen.  And when it does, the skies will part, the angels will sing, and Skip Bayless will crown him MVP…all before he completes his first pass (just before halftime).

4.  With the Patriots light on receivers, Tom Brady, upon suffering two Superbowl defeats to Eli Manning, will attempt to do the very thing wife Gisele Bundchen claimed he could not…throw the ball and catch it himself.

3.  Eli Manning will finally prove that he is an elite quarterback after all, and is undoubtedly the best quarterback in the Manning family.  Wait, didn’t he do that last season?  Forget it then.  Eli will find new joy playing for the Giants, without carrying a 230-pound monkey on his back named Peyton.

2.  After two weeks of fumbled calls, Father Goodell will finally open his checkbook and sign the NFL officials to a new contract, just in time for week three.  The replacement refs will miss the call, report to work, and flag the league for too many men on the field.  They will try to reverse the call, but won’t remember what it was.

1.  And for my last bold prediction of the season…Terrell Owens and Chad (Ochocinco) Johnson will fall in love (no, not with each other) and ride off into sunset, never to be heard from again.  I know.  I pushed it too far with that one.  Damn, it was a nice thought though…wasn’t it?

Here’s to the 2012 NFL season.  The clock is down to hours…and they’re ticking away.

XO

Worst. Week. Ever.

In the last week, former Dolphins Wide Receiver Chad Johnson was arrested for domestic battery, fired from three jobs (the Dolphins, Hard Knocks, and Ev and Ocho) and is now being divorced by his wife, Reality Star Evelyn Lozada.

Tuesday night’s episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks documented the former Ochocinco’s final days in Dolphins training camp, up to and including his termination by Head Coach Joe Philbin.

A humble, apologetic, and slipper-clad Johnson was filmed while meeting with Philbin the day after his arrest.  The coach basically tells him he and the team aren’t a good fit for each other, thanks him for his time, and sends him on his way.  In the meantime, staff is seen packing up his locker.

At one point, Johnson is practically pleading for his job, saying he’s never been in trouble before (which we now know is not completely true).  But it’s too little, too late.  And Johnson’s off-the-field issues were only compounded by the fact that he wasn’t exactly stellar on the field either.  The only pass that came his way during Saturday’s first preseason game went right through his hands.

So if Philbin was looking for a reason to keep him, Johnson didn’t give him one.  If anything, he made it way too easy for the coach to say “so long,” and “next…”  But that’s the NFL.

Hard Knocks, baby…hard knocks.  Especially if you’re Chad Johnson this week.

Guilty or not, if you didn’t watch that episode and feel a little sorry for Chad, you’re missing a sensitivity chip.  Or something.  (Thank you, Jennifer Aniston.)

I want to personally thank Mr. Johnson, (formerly Ochocinco, formerly Johnson) for the fantastic story lines he created for me over these last several months.  He is truly a sports writer’s dream.

And so, I leave you with this:

Dear Chad,

In episode one of Hard Knocks you said that if not for football, your backup plan was porn. Let’s please not go there.

But may you find peace, happiness, and success wherever life brings you next.

And if Ocho’s Johnson is that place…well then, so be it.

We’re pulling for you anyway.

XO

Oucho!

Oh, Chad.  The drama, the name changing, the never-ending attention seeking…but the one thing we could always say was that you were never in trouble.  Ever.  You just weren’t one of those guys.

…And now you are.

The trouble started in the Miami Dolphin wide receiver’s car on the way home from dinner Saturday night. As reported, Chad Johnson’s wife, Basketball Wives star Evelyn (Lozada) found a receipt for a box of condoms in his car.  A heated argument ensued, as it would in any marriage when someone is buying condoms their partner is unaware of.

And here’s where it goes real bad…at some point during the argument Chad allegedly head butts Evelyn.  Yes, head butts.  The thing two-year-olds are known for doing when they don’t get their way.  Evelyn was taken to the hospital with a laceration to her forehead and Chad was hauled off to jail.

Someone else who probably woke up with a headache this morning, Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin.  The team released the following statement Saturday night via Twitter:

Statement from team on Chad Johnson arrest: “We are aware of the situation & are in the process of gathering all the relevent information.”

The Miami Dolphins training camp is featured in HBO’s Hard Knocks series this season.  On last Tuesday’s premier, Johnson is reprimanded for dropping multiple f-bombs during a press conference.  Philbin tells him that kind of behavior could threaten his position on the team.  Johnson reacted by swearing off the media and then updated his Facebook and Twitter avatars with this photo (which has since been changed):

Tuesday’s episode wraps up with Johnson leaving the training facility to enjoy a day off.  He casually calls out, “I promise I’m getting arrested on my day off.”  Johnson has made many a bold promise during his career.  But this one he chooses to deliver on?  Seriously disappointing.  I’m sure Philbin was also disappointed to see the profanity laced police report.

It’s safe to say this wasn’t the exposure the Dolphins were seeking when they signed on to do Hard Knocks.  We thought Ryan Tannehill’s holdout, battle for starting quarterback, even his wife, Lauren would steal the show.  Little did we know the skirmish we would all be talking about would involve the newlywed couple, leaving Evelyn Johnson with a goose egg on her forehead and Chad with his marriage and career hanging in the balance.

Hard Knocks just got harder.

XO

Hard Knocks Miami Dolphins: The One With the Spa Party

Last night was the long-awaited debut of HBO’s Hard Knocks series featuring the Miami Dolphins at training camp.  Much of the show centered around new Head Coach Joe Philbin laying his groundwork and expectations for the season.  He comes off as focused and straight, but more teacher than coach.  He actually seems a little apprehensive during his corrective talks with Vontae Davis and Chad Johnson.  Vontae for taking potty breaks during practice and Johnson for dropping excessive F-bombs during a press conference.  It will be interesting to see how his style plays out on and off the field.

Here are some highlights:

It took HBO producers approximately ten minutes to feature rookie Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and his wife, Lauren, now a celebrity in her own right (for looking the part).  In the few minutes she was on, we learned that she is beautiful, sweet, and a proud dog mom.  Judging by the Twitter feed, this was the highlight of the show.  Debate ensued as to whether she is all she has been made out to be appearance wise.  Guess viewers have a few more weeks to make up their minds on that.

I always wondered what players did during their downtime at camp.  Now we know…they have spa parties and color each other’s hair!  That is, if you can call what they did coloring.  It was more bleaching out patterns and shapes, but regardless it looked like they were having a great time at it.  I think I see a post football career in beauty for some of those players!

And then there was Chad Johnson (formerly Ochocinco, formerly Johnson) being well, Chad Johnson.  He is determined as always and seems humbled by his experience with the Patriots last season.  He says he doesn’t regret it because he learned so much playing for Bill Belichick.  When asked what he learned most he responded, “To shut the f*** up.  For a year.”  Apparently he didn’t learn it well enough, because a few scenes later he has a “talking to” by Coach Philbin for dropping the f-bomb approximately seven times in a row during a press conference.  Philbin tells him he is representing the team and that occasional use of said obscenity may be useful, but that excessive use is just ineffective.  Alrighty then.  The message behind the message, what Belichick said.  Shut the f*** up.

Another motivating factor for Johnson, his new bride Evelyn, who is apparently his biggest fan and his biggest critic.  Johnson claims he got the Heisman in the bedroom last year due to his unproductive play.  One of his motivating factors this season is avoiding a return to “cobweb mode.”  On the other hand, Johnson tells the media if he doesn’t make the roster, his plan B is…porn.  I’m pulling for success on and off the field.  Now shut the f*** up.

Then there is hard-working Rookie Tight End Les Brown.  He hasn’t played football since high school, instead playing college basketball.  He earns his way to camp on speed, but spends much of it on the turf.  As in, on his butt on the ground.  It’s easy to see where this is going and as the Twitterverse speculates, he’s more likely to spend his career wearing a UPS uniform.  I would have had a much harder time with that before his girlfriend walked up at the end of practice and he greeted her with, “You look hot.  As usez.”

Tune in next week to see… if Les Brown can come up with a better pickup line, if Lauren Tannehill really is all that, if Vontae Davis can control his bladder, if Chad Johnson can shut the f*** up, and if the guy who doesn’t wear deodorant still smells like roses, as he claims.

Hard Knocks, indeed.

XO

Name Game

Here we go again.  The NFL player formerly known as Chad Ochocinco is officially Chad Johnson once again.  Johnson filed paperwork in Broward County court yesterday to return to his legal given name, after using Ochocinco (his number 85 in spanish) for the last four years.  It didn’t come as a complete surprise either.  Though he did take some by surprise.  George Atallah of the NFL Players Association tweeted the following yesterday:

Johnson was married July 4th to reality TV star Evelyn Lozada and had stated that he may change his name back so his new bride doesn’t have to take Evelyn Ochocinco as her legal name.  And who says chivalry is dead?  The more likely scenario…she flat out refused.  And who could blame her?

Johnson has returned home to Miami, where he will play for the Dolphins this season in a Johnson 85 jersey.  He was released by the New England Patriots earlier this year after an overall unproductive season.  Prior to playing for the Patriots, Johnson was a six-time Pro Bowl player for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Truth be told, he was a lot more productive as Chad Johnson.  Although he claims he made the change for love, Johnson told ESPN yesterday, “I’m refocused and locked in. Time to get back to the old me.”  And the old name, apparently.  Johnson changed the name on his Twitter account, but has kept the handle @Ochocinco.

I think for now I’ll just call him Chad.

XO