Let's take a second and bow our heads in remembrance to one of the most demonstrative times in the NFL. I'm talking about a few short years ago when, with every touchdown scored, you never knew if that person scoring was going to sign the ball with a magically appearing sharpie or choreograph a Rockettes dance scene with a group of cheerleaders that happened to be standing by.
Yes, it was a time of wonder, a time of inventiveness and just plain fun that was spearheaded by two of the most vocal wideouts ever to strap on a helmet, Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. On a weekly basis, you could count on those two characters pushing beyond the boundaries of NFL propriety to deliver a water-cooler moment or two. Now, with both of them out of the game, it's a sad day indeed in the NFL as that little light of self expression has been all but snuffed out (at least we have Aaron Rodgers discount double take!).
Wait, what, you mean Chad Ochocinco is still playing in the NFL?
Oh, that's right! I have heard vague rumors that he has been sighted in New England this season but I just chalked them up there with Bigfoot and the Chupacabra. But, after a careful investigation that included going thru hours of game film from the Patriots, it does appear that Chad Ochocinco is a member of the Patriots receiving corps at this time.
Most of the kidding aside, can anyone name a more complete disappointing athlete of 2011 than mister 85?
I mean, damn, this guy was the talk of the limited preseason with his going to New England. People were dreaming, hell, salivating, over the prospect of Tom Brady throwing to Ochocinco. New Englanders were going into convulsions with the flashbacks of what Brady did for Moss and the possibilities of this duo.
Then the season started, and Ochocinco just looked lost, and we haven't seen him since.
In an offense that features one of the most prolific passing games in the NFL behind a QB that could put an 80 year old invalid in the slot and get him 5 catches a game, Ochocinco has been largely ineffective and a total bust. He is on pace for his worst statistical season since he entered the NFL, only catching 15 passes for 276 yards and a touchdown with one game remaining.
This lack of production is inexplicable and has nearly all the NFL community scratching their heads. Personally, I think the problem is that Coach Bill Belichick tends to neuter any outspoken personalities on his teams and a quiet Ochocinco is not an Ochocinco we know. The kool aid that New England slips its personnel puts them in line but it also killed what make Chad the wideout he is.
Have a hard time believing that kool aid remark? Well, just look at this response by Ocho to a question regarding whether this season has been trying for him and you tell me if he hasn't been guzzling some mind altering substances.
"No, not at all. It’s a team game, it’s not an individual game.” Ochocinco said “Everything is based off individual numbers and everybody wants to look at the stats, but it is what it is. We’re 11-3 and I’m happy."
Whatever the case, the Ochocinco-Patriots experiment has been a total bust this season and may spell an anti-climactic end to one of the greatest and most vibrant personalities to ever play the game. His lack of production on a team that excels in his area makes him the number 1 choice for most disappointing athlete of 2011.
Honorable Mention: LeBron James, Miami Heat (who outside of Miami didn't love that Finals choke?)
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS