Thursday, September 4, 2008

In defense of Ocho Cinco

The All-Pro receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson wants to be called Chad Ocho Cinco. What's the problem?

All the derision and mockery surrounding Ocho Cinco's name change feels unbecoming, and something a tad more than paternalistic. This is really not a big deal, folks. Not to mention, people, especially sports fans, have notoriously short memories.

Chad isn't the first entertainer (and let's not get it twisted - the NFL is all about entertainment) to change his name for a spotlight grab. Or have we already forgotten about the likes of Thomas Cruise Mapother IV or Caryn Elaine Johnson or Anna Mae Bullock or Shawn Carter? For sports aficionados, what about World B. Free?

Is it a marketing stunt? Sure. And for that, Ocho Cinco should be given his fair share of props: Chad has made himself into a bonafide star through his superb play and occasional antics on the field and his engaging personality off of it. Ocho Cinco might be the first real football superstar to play in Cincinnati. Taking the place of, I guess, Ickey Woods or Boomer Esiason.

Guys like Ocho Cinco make sports a little less bland. Especially if you have the misfortune of rooting for the Bengals.

If there's a real reason to take issue with the name change, it's that it's essentially a mish-mash of Spanish. If Johnson were really trying to be accurate with it, his new surname would be Ochenta y Cinco.

But that's not gonna move No. 85 Bengals jerseys off the racks. And, really, isn't that the point?

* By the way, isn't nice to be talking football again? Unless, of course, you root for the Redskins. Blech. Not to much to look forward to this season in D.C., eh?

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