Is this a joke? Can we really take him seriously? Well at the moment it seems to be that Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson of the Cincinnati Bengals, who is currently being locked out by the owners and Commissioner of the National Football League, is actually going to try out for Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer. The biggest mouth of the NFL who made his end-zone celebrations famous is taking this trial very seriously and wants to join the club.
Let’s remember that he is a fan of the game and did visit Real Madrid during the off-season after his Bengals were eliminated from reaching the playoffs this past NFL season. Other professional players in other pro sports leagues also enjoy the game like the Boston Celtics Kevin Garnett, Seattle Mariners Shortstop Jack Wilson, LA Angels’s Bobby Abreu and many hockey players in the NHL coming from Sweden, Finland, Russia, Germany, Norway and so on.
But when it comes to Major League Soccer, do they need a publicity stunt like Chad Johnson to participate in their league? The original publicity stunt was television actor Andrew Shue of Melrose Place who actually played college soccer and signed a one year contract for the Los Angeles Galaxy in the league’s inaugural season back in 1996. He played sparingly off the bench and looked decent, but Chad Johnson is a pure athlete and does have the capability to actually perform on a soccer field.
But once again is this something that:
A. The NFL players trade union (remember that the NFL Players Association Union has decertified and can’t be called a collective union anymore) is happy to see one of their top players trying out for a different pro sports league,
B. Are his teammates thrilled to see this going on,
C. What will his fans think when he decides to give up football & actually play some futbol? Will he take this seriously and show true commitment to Sporting Kansas City? Or will he leave in the middle of the season once the NFL and the Players agree to a brand new labor agreement.
I honestly believe that Chad Johnson is finding a way to stay active and if this labor problem persists into the regular season after Labor Day weekend, then he will be the one looking like the better person for finding a way to stay active and fit instead of pouting and whining about his real sport. But if Sporting Kansas City does make the decision of signing him to a contract, they have to understand that there will be an out clause which is of course returning to the NFL when the labor problems are done.
In some ways to me this stunt is partly a joke, but at the same time there is some interest to see NFL fans that are not soccer fans becoming one and following MLS. It would be nice to see Chad Johnson wearing a USA National Team Jersey and invited to watch a friendly or a World Cup Qualifier at a designated stadium. Good luck Chad Johnson but please no crying if you don’t make the cut.