As promised in my Monday post wrapping up the previous weekend, a weekend that saw Dolphins wide receiver Chad
Ochocinco Johnson become former Dolphins wide receiver Chad Ochocinco Johnson, I did tune in to Hard Knocks on Tuesday night to watch Johnson's final episode on the show.
As I watched the first twenty minutes or so of the one-hour program, it felt a little like watching a rerun of the Beverly Hills, 90210 episode where Dylan's wife Toni was viciously murdered in the final few minutes of the show. (Oops, do I need to scream "SPOILER ALERT!" on a program from nearly 20 years ago?)
I mean, for nearly the entire episode of Hard Knocks, Johnson is playfully gallivanting around the practice field, the innocence of a kid's game quite evident, but the whole time I knew...I knew that in the final five minutes...BOOM!! It was coming.
So I pondered how it might all go down. How would Chad Johnson be written out of the Hard Knocks script? Would he leave quietly to study abroad? Would he die in a fiery car crash with no body found, allowing him to possibly return with amnesia in 2013?
Unfortunately, Hard Knocks is not a soap opera (as best I can tell, at least), so it went down in a much more subdued, yet highly Zapruder-able fashion. Let's take a look and then break down the highlights, shall we?
0:05 -- Blended shot of Chad Johnson exiting some sort of minivan and entering the building with a shot of Joe Philbin sitting at what looks to be the receptionist's desk talking to someone, listing all of Johnson's missteps since signing with the Dolphins in June. Philbin lists the transgressions:
1. An incident this summer where he was "tweeting stuff he shouldn't have been" 2. Press conference where he goes off on a tirade "F this and F that" 3. And now "this thing"
"This thing" would be the incident from this past weekend when Johnson got into a domestic spat with his new bride, reality TV star Evelyn Lozada, over a receipt for a box of condoms. Somewhere during that spat, depending on who you believe, either Johnson head-butted his wife or she head-butted him. The one thing we do know is that if Lozada delivered the head butt, she needs more practice as she sustained a three-inch gash on her forehead.
0:34 -- Philbin: "When things are good, they're good, but when they're bad, he can be a tad...well, ya know**..."
** ya-KNOW: adj. 1. mental; 2. insane; 3. idiotic; 4. narcissistic; 5. not worth it
0:38 -- Johnson walks down the hall to Philbin's office, in the process walking past pictures and watercolor paintings of Dolphin legends like Csonka, Kiick, Marino, and Griese, all of whom I'm fairly sure made it through their first two weeks of camp without a spousal abuse incident.
0:47 -- My favorite part of this whole clip is Johnson's attire -- goofy t-shirt, pajama bottoms, and bedroom slippers. It's almost as if the Dolphins picked him up mob-style at the end of his driveway while he was grabbing the morning paper, telling him "Chad, you better come wit' us. The skipper needs to see ya..." Seriously, this is a meeting with your boss where presumably there's a great chance of you getting fired, so you wear slippers? God, that is awesome. 1:00 -- Johnson actually has the first words and admits that Philbin "got the message across clear the first day we met." So now hopefully the Karlos Dansbys of the world who were up in arms over Philbin's giving Johnson only ONE strike can shut their traps. Johnson knew going in he had one strike, the two discussed this.
1:27 -- "I apologize for embarrassing the organization." I'm not sure this qualifies as an admission of guilt in the Lozada head-butt incident (If you didn't do anything wrong then why apologize?), but perhaps even Chad Johnson knows that it probably matters little to the Dolphins whether he delivered or received a head butt to/from his spouse. The bottom line is he's in a marriage where a head butt actually took place. Um, not normal, and the drama potential going forward is enough to make the Dolphins cash in their Ochocinco chips.
1:58 -- Philbin: "I don't know if this is working for the benefit of you, me, the Miami Dolphins or anybody else..." Philbin left out this part: "But mostly me and the Miami Dolphins, and by mostly, I mean entirely. Fuck you, Chad."
2:08 -- Tight shot of Chad Johnson where he's getting that "I feel like I'm about to head butt somebody!" look on his face. Hopefully, Philbin keeps his guard up.
2:14 -- Johnson: "Coach, I've never been in trouble before." Apparently, his domestic battery case in college was expunged from all human memory, so erase it, people! Erase it, internet! It never happened! You hear me? IT NEVER HAPPENED. Chad Johnson is squeaky clean, CLEAN I TELLS YA!! 2:24 -- Johnson: "After that talk we had, I was hush from that point on. And I was gonna stay that way the entire year." Part of me would have liked to have seen Chad Johnson make it through a whole year under the Philbin program. I can only imagine, come January, what Chad Johnson with six months of pent-up crazy coursing through his veins would do. Have a threesome with two Kardashians on the White House lawn? Tight rope over the Grand Canyon on bath salts? What exactly would a Chad Johnson insane-o-gasm after a full season of being cockblocked from, well, being Chad Johnson entail? We were denied this, and that is the real tragedy here.
2:30 -- I'll admit firing people is never fun. I've had to do it before, and if you've had to do it, you know the process is insanely uncomfortable and lends itself to soft playing and mealy mouthing. And Philbin is doing just that: "It's not just last night, it's you know, where we are as a program, and where you are, and where we're headed, I just don't see the mesh right now. I wish it was different, I wish I could tell you something more encouraging." The only thing missing was "It's not you, it's me, Chad."
Go ahead and add "How to fire someone" to the list of things that people outside of the world of professional wrestling could learn from Vince McMahon:
3:00 -- After saying Johnson was fired basically, Philbin makes the classic termination misstep of continuing to talk, talk about how Johnson doesn't fit in, and blah blah blah. Also, he dropped the tried and true "I know it's not good news, but it's not good news for us either." I LOVE that one. "Hey, Chad, we are firing you. This is terrible news for US!" Ha ha! Fantastic!
The meeting actually ends fairly cordially with Philbin wishing Johnson well, and Johnson thanking Philbin for the opportunity, which pissed me off. I was really hoping to see some furniture get flipped over. This wound up being more like a breakup on The Bachelor than a contentious termination from a seven-figure job. The only thing missing was a final vignette with a sobbing Johnson in the back of a limousine incredulous that Philbin would choose that SLUT Davone Bess over him!
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The final hilarious shot of the segment was the shot of the wall in the Dolphins front hallway, two Lombardi trophies and in a very large font "CHAMPIONS LEARN HERE." Seeing as the Dolphins haven't won a Super Bowl since the `70's, I can only guess that the front hallway also has shag carpet and wooden paneling.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.