Control is next to impossible to achieve. No matter how much we plan, no matter how much we try and script life there is a small moment that begins to unravel our tightly wound world. When I first thought about what this week’s blog entry would be on, I wanted to write about which aging receiver trying to revive their career would have a better year; TO, Chad Johnson-Ochocinco-John-Jacob-Jingle
heimerschimt or Randy Moss. I was going to do crazy amounts of research, give you stats and charts and graphs in order to prove my point. And then I woke up this weekend and my whole ball of yarn was unwound on the floor. One third of my blog entry was in jail for allegedly assaulting his wife, and I no longer knew what to write.
Life gets in the way, and we have to make difficult choices about how to navigate through the mire that those choices leave behind. I love writing this, even though it seems few read it and even fewer comment on it. It’s a nice release, however, and forces me to be focused and study the topics I wish to write about. It also allows me to provide entertainment while still putting parts of my personality on display through my writing and the arguments I pontificate on. When you click on my blog, you know what you’re going to get. If you don’t like how I write, or you can’t stand my writing persona, you don’t have to click on my entries. Simple as that.
The Miami Dolphins didn’t have to sign Johnson to a deal. They knew what they were getting. They should have understood the type of personality they were placing on their team. If they didn’t then shame on them, because there was plenty of tape that told you what he would do once he was on the team. The New England experiment was an outlier, made possible by the fact that Bill Belichick brooks no fools. Anywhere else Johnson went he was going to perform, both on and off the field, the way he performed in Cincinnati. The Dolphins, having a dearth of talent at the wideout spot were going to either have to deal with him, or settle for rolling with what they had and being happy about it. They chose to sign Chad, and so they shouldn’t have been surprised when he went out and “performed” during a media session. That doesn’t excuse his behavior; I understand the chagrin of head coach Joe Philbin and why he felt he needed to talk to Johnson after the expletive laden session, but once again, that’s what the Dolphins bought. Don’t complain about the sour milk you purchased; you clearly saw it was past the expiration date.
Now, however, Johnson has gone a bit too far. He has allegedly committed domestic abuse and should, if guilty, be punished to the full extent of the law. I grew up with a physically abusive step-father and don’t condone any man accosting a female. That being said, no one but Chad and his wife know what really happened, so we should all wait for the facts to enter the public record before castigating him. The Dolphins didn’t wait, and cut Johnson a day after the incident, although Philbin was quick to speak on the situation, saying “I'd like to address the roster move we made last night. As with any type of these decisions, it was not an easy one. It was not reactive. Nor was it based on one single incident. In making these decisions we base our evaluations on a set of criteria that supports our organizational goals and includes the player's performance both on and off the field." Now, the Dolphins, and any team in the NFL, can make a move for any reason, and they had a good reason to make this move if they feel that Johnson is guilty of the crime he is accused of committing. They can’t be cutting him for the cursing during the media session, since Johnson listened to Philbin and curbed the attention he sought from the cameras around the team. There has only been one public incident, and that is the domestic abuse. That is cause enough to cut a player, and if that is the reason they cut him they should have the guts to tell the world that is why. They don’t have to belittle Johnson, but they can say they don’t want the stigma of that situation to surround their football team.
True leadership is doing what is right, even if that means making the unpopular choice. There are many fans who might forgive Johnson almost anything because they feel he could provide some production for the team. True leadership is also being smart enough to make a change before a situation occurs. Philbin and Dolphins brass knew what Johnson was; a media whore. A talented media whore, but a media whore nonetheless. If Johnson couldn’t make it work both on and off the field in New England with one of the greatest coaches and one of the greatest QB’s in the game, what was he going to do in Miami? Make waves looking into the camera and proclaiming his own greatness, that’s what. Once again, they had all the tape they needed to assess what Johnson truly was. Here was a chance for the organization to take a true leadership role in the NFL, to reestablish themselves after years of irrelevance and the “Is your mother a prostitute” incident. Instead of leading, the Dolphins would rather follow, telling everyone that they cut Johnson for other reason than he might have hit his wife. They weren’t embarrassed that Jeff Ireland asked Dez Bryant about his mother being a prostitute, but telling the world they don’t wish to associate with alleged wife beaters is too much to handle. They missed a chance to be real leaders, to speak up and take a stand.
No matter how much we plan, sometimes forces take control of our lives in ways that we can’t imagine. When the world is unraveling around us, we should try and wind it back up, instead of looking at the mess and walking around it, too embarrassed to admit we helped make it.