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NFL: Remember when Chad Ochocinco legally changed his name?

Chad Ochocinco with the Cincinnati Bengals Enter caption
Chad Ochocinco with the Cincinnati Bengals Enter caption
Amaar Burton

Chad Johnson was one of the NFL's best wide receivers and most memorable characters of the 2000s decade.

The Cincinnati Bengals star made the Pro Bowl six times between 2003 and 2009, and was voted All-Pro four times. In 2006, he led the NFL in receiving yards. Three times during the decade, Johnson finished in the NFL's top-10 in receptions, five times he was top-10 in yards, and three times he was top-10 in receiving touchdowns. He helped the Bengals make the playoffs twice.

That was Chad Johnson the football player. Then there was Chad Johnson the character. He was famous for his touchdown celebrations and the media loved his interviews, where he was consistently a great quote. In an era when some athletes were infamous for referring to themselves in third-person, Chad Johnson would often refer to himself simply by his jersey number: 85.

Ahead of the 2008 season, Chad Johnson did something that made headlines everywhere and added to his legend. He legally changed his name to Chad Ochcocinco.

The new surname was Chad's take on the Spanish version of his jersey number. In actuality, "Ochocinco" translates to "eight five" in Spanish; "Ochenta y cinco" is the proper way to say "eighty-five."

Coincidentally, the 2008 season was a disaster for the Bengals and the beginning of Chad Ochocinco's professional decline.

The Bengals started off 0-8, and in the process lost starting quarterback Carson Palmer to a season-ending elbow injury in Week 4. The team finished 4-11-1.

After recording between 87-97 receptions for each of the previous five seasons, Ochocinco's production dipped to 53 catches for just 540 yards in 2008. It was the first time he failed to break the 1,000-yard barrier since his rookie season. His four touchdowns were also his lowest output since his rookie season.

Ochocinco bounced back the next season, returning to the Pro Bowl after catching 72 balls for 1,047 yards and nine touchdowns. The Bengals went 10-6 and made the playoffs.

That was Chad Ochocinco's last standout NFL season. In 2010, he dropped under 1,000 yards again and the Bengals missed the playoffs.


Bengals trade Chad Ochocinco to the Patriots

In 2011, the Bengals traded Ochocinco to the New England Patriots for two draft picks. He went from being Cincinnati's top receiver to just another cog in the Patriots' machine. While Ochocinco didn't play nearly as much or produce nearly as much, he did get to play in the Super Bowl with the Patriots. (They lost to the New York Giants.)

After one season together, the Patriots cut Chad Ochocinco. He signed with the Miami Dolphins, and prior to training camp in 2012, he legally changed his name back to Chad Johnson.

The "Ochocinco" era was over after four years, three teams, one Pro Bowl and one Super Bowl.

Chad Johnson never played a game for the Dolphins, however. Before the season began, he was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence against his wife, reality TV star Evelyn Lozada. The day after his arrest, the Dolphins cut him.

That was Johnson's last run in the NFL. He played professionally in Canada in 2014, and in Mexico in 2017 before retiring from football.


Edited by Amaar Burton

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