For years the media dreamed what it would be like, the intersection of Chad Ochocinco, the Bengals' Baron of Bluster, and Super Bowl Media Day. Perhaps no player in NFL history had garnered more minutes of camera time per victory than number 85 in stripes. When it finally came to pass on Tuesday, the outspoken receiver, now a member of the AFC Champion New England Patriots, was uncharacteristically reserved and reflective as he had his moment under the big lights.
Ochocinco's season playing for the Patriots has hardly gone as he had hoped. When he finally got his wish to get out of Cincinnati this past off season, the consensus was that he would provide Tom Brady with the big play wide receiver he had been missing. Instead, Ochocinco has been pretty much an afterthought in the Patriots' game plan.
Chad caught just 15 passes in 16 games for New England this season for a paltry 276 yards and a single touchdown at Denver. Even in the first round playoff rematch with the Broncos in which Brady completed 26 passes for 363 yards and six touchdowns, not a single pass was aimed at Ochocinco. He was a "healthy scratch" in the AFC championship game against Baltimore following the death of his father.
So instead of the bombastic and bragging Ochocinco we've become accustomed to, this season we've seen (and heard) very little from him. There's a reason for that, Chad shared on Tuesday:
"I could have talked," he said, 'but then I'd be sitting at home today."
It's clear that New England head coach Bill Belichick has put some limits on Ochocinco's brashness, limits that the receiver has been all too careful to stay within in order to get to this career-defining moment of participating in a Super Bowl.
"I've been playing this game a long time — started out at 4 years old. And this is what you dream of, to come to this stage and enjoy it. So that's what I'm going to do."
Later, when a reporter asked Chad if he thought he was capable of doing more than he has this season, Ochocinco became defensive:
"You tryin' to bait me?… I never said I was a great receiver. I like to celebrate and talk (smack). That's it."
That will come as news to Bengals fans and to Marvin Lewis.
On Sunday, Chad will try to do what Corey Dillon did in 2004: leave Cincinnati and win a Super Bowl ring with New England. Whatever his role in Sunday's Super Bowl, Ochocinco has finally arrived at the game's pinnacle, playing for a championship. It's clear from his comments yesterday that the journey has humbled him.
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