Less than a week ago, six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Chad Johnson made his debut with the Miami Dolphins on the HBO series Hard Knocks. Now, after a highly publicized domestic abuse incident with his reality star wife, Johnson is out of a job, and there are questions of whether this is the end of the line for the man once known as “Ochocinco.”
“We’re going to deal with this,” said new Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin on Sunday before practice. “We’re not going to waste time. We’re all in this thing together. Everybody that sets foot in this building, we’re all held to a high standard.”
Philbin proved prophetic as the Dolphins terminated Johnson’s contract late Sunday evening, less than 24 hours after he got into an argument with his wife of 35 days – Evelyn Lozada of the reality TV show Basketball Wives – and allegedly head-butted her. Johnson was released on a $2,500 bond early Monday after being charged with misdemeanor domestic battery.
“I reminded them that on April 10 in our first team meetings, I said, ‘Guys, I’d love to stand up here and tell you we’re never going to have a problem here in Miami,’” Philbin said on Sunday. “Do we want high-character guys? Yes. All 31 other coaches are going to say the same thing.
“But I specifically told them on April 10 that there will be problems that arise and you have to deal with them honestly and openly and directly. You’ve got to learn from mistakes and move on, and you can’t hide from the problem.”
While he had never been arrested while in the NFL prior to Saturday, when Johnson was in college he was charged with domestic violence after an altercation with his then-girlfriend. He served probation and was required to take anger-management classes.
If convicted in this case, Johnson could face up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Johnson and Lozada were prominent in the first episode of Hard Knocks that aired last Tuesday, and he even joked about getting arrested on his day off – which ironically happened.
During that episode, Johnson was shown giving a profanity-laced introductory press conference. Philbin warned him that his spot on the roster would be in jeopardy if he did not reel in his antics.
“It was more of a body of evidence from June 11 forward,” Philbin said on Monday before Dolphins’ practice. “When he came in on June 11, we sat down and we talked. I was very clear the expectations of the program, and it just didn’t work out.
“It’s more about the fit. In my gut, I didn’t feel the fit was going to be beneficial for either party in the short-term or long-term.”
Johnson, a Miami native, signed with the Dolphins on June 11 and had been competing for a spot on the team after spending last season with the New England Patriots, after 10 years with the Cincinnati Bengals. He was coming off his worst season as a professional with the Patriots, catching just 15 passes for 276 yards and scoring a single touchdown.
He was seeking to resurrect his career with Miami. He played just one preseason game with the team last week – dropping the only pass thrown his way – and some of his now-former teammates were not happy about his quick dismissal.
“I hate that we didn’t stand behind him,” Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby said on Miami radio station WMEN-AM on Monday. “I know the guys in the locker room would. But the organization felt a totally different way about the situation, and they probably had more information than we know. And they had to do what they had to do.”
Despite the bad press from the domestic abuse – and the relatively high profile of Johnson’s wife – Dansby insisted that keeping Johnson would not have been as big of a distraction. He felt the team should’ve stood behind Johnson.
“It’s going to be an even bigger distraction right now, I think, because of the simple fact we let him go,” Dansby said. “I think if we were going to be with the guy, if he was going to be our guy, we have to stand behind him even though the situation came about. He didn’t get that third strike.”