When the Patriots travel to Oakland this weekend, there will be a subplot far more recent than the Tuck Rule.
Pats receiver Chad Ochocinco will be reunited with Raiders coach Hue Jackson, who was at one point Chad’s position coach. Their history in Cincinnati includes Chad famously calling Jackson’s name after being lit up by former Browns safety Brian Russell and notoriously taking a swing at Jackson during halftime of a January 2006 playoff loss to the Steelers.
“Chad Johnson’s my son,” Jackson said Wednesday during a conference call with New England media, via Tom Curran of CSNNE.com. “I know you guys probably have a hard time with him. He’s kind of colorful. But he is a tremendous young man. I really adore him but I won’t on Sunday.”
Jackson’s ties to the receiver formerly named Johnson run deep. “I helped raise that young man in Cincinnati,” Jackson said, offering more candor than coaches concerned with possible tampering typically would. “He played for me, he did wonders for me and he is a tremendous competitor and a doggone good football player.”
The contrast between Jackson’s approach to Chad and his current team’s apparent attempt to stifle his individuality became clear. “I let him have his own personality because that’s Chad,” Jackson said. “You have to allow him to be him to get the most out of him. That’s what we were able to do and we forged a bond that’s been the same since my time in Cincinnati.”
Though it’s possible that the stage in New England is too big for Ochocinco, it could be that Chad’s continuous effort to repress his nature in order to fit in with the Patriots has become a distraction. Instead of worrying about learning the offense and running the right routes and catching the ball naturally and instinctively, Chad could be carrying around unnecessary mental baggage as he tries to squeeze the square peg of his personality into the round hole of The Patriot Way. So while coach Bill Belichick may have successfully changed Chad in order to minimize the distractions he possibly would create for the team, the internal conflict that comes from Chad trying to be someone other than who he is could be the real cause for Chad not being on the field the player that he needs to be.