Chad Johnson makes his exit on Hard Knocks


Tuesday night’s episode of Hard Knocks was highly anticipated because it was sure to take viewers inside the Dolphins’ decision to cut receiver Chad Johnson after he was arrested on a domestic violence charge, and it delivered with a dramatic conclusion.

But what the episode also showed was that the Dolphins might have cut Johnson even if he were a model citizen.

In footage shot last week, before Johnson’s wife accused him of head-butting her, Johnson was seen struggling on the practice field and becoming frustrated with his own performance at practice, at one point berating himself on the sideline for what he called “a rookie f–king mistake.” Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was shown in the coaches’ box during the Dolphins’ preseason game, becoming furious when Johnson dropped a pass. And head coach Joe Philbin was shown talking about Johnson struggling to learn the offense: Philbin didn’t seem impressed with Johnson’s grasp of the playbook, or with Johnson’s failure to learn the responsibilities of the slot receivers in the Dolphins’ offense.

“Chad hasn’t done a lot inside, we’re trying to get him — you know, the big knock when he came here was he couldn’t pick up the system,” Philbin said.

Even Johnson himself was shown saying that he didn’t think he was a lock to make the Dolphins’ 53-man roster.

“There’s no such thing as locked up. I’ve got to earn a spot,” Johnson said.

All of that was a prelude to what we all knew was coming: Johnson’s arrest and his subsequent release. Hard Knocks saved Johnson’s departure for the end of the episode, as the producers knew that’s where this week’s drama would come in. And it was dramatic: The cameras were in the room when Philbin sat Johnson down and informed him that he was being cut.

Johnson attempted to persuade Philbin to give him another chance to remain with the Dolphins.

“Coach, I’ve never been in trouble before — ever,” Johnson said. (Which isn’t true; Johnson was convicted of domestic battery in 2000.)

Philbin told him, “I wish it was different, I wish I could tell you something more encouraging, but I just think it’s best for both of us that we kind of part ways at this point in time.”

Johnson thanked Philbin for the opportunity to play for the Dolphins, and Philbin told Johnson he wishes him well. With that, the men shook hands, and Johnson left the coach’s office. The episode’s final images were of a member of the staff clearing out Johnson’s locker, and Johnson walking toward the exit.

93 responses to “Chad Johnson makes his exit on Hard Knocks

  1. That was Brutal. Felt like I was getting cut. That being said, how come in the 9-11 tape it has the neighbor saying they “ran into each other” but then changes the story to he “headbutted” her?

  2. Getting cut is bad enough, having hundreds of thousands of people watch it on HBO? That’s just awful…

  3. Great episode. Chad knew what was coming but it was still awkward to watch…

    @bluelifer I got news for you. You are a champion of grammar and football knowledge. Get lost.

  4. It feels good being a fan of a team that doesn’t put up with nonsense like this. If it were a different type of offense I’d be more understanding. But with domestic abuse there’s no wiggle room in my book. I was upset back when Phil Merling managed to stick on with the team for two full years after being brought up on battery charges against his girl. And I love that this team has wised up. Regardless of why he was cut, this incident or his poor play or his clownish personality, good riddance.

  5. He said it best to that guy: it’s a death sentence.

    He knows his career is absolutely shot.

  6. The cutting of Chad seemed…fake. Like they re-did it for TV. I can’t believe that was so…civil.

  7. I think they cut him beforehand, and then asked him if he wanted to come in and give the appearance anyway- that he was truly sorry, and that he took being cut like a man in order to save some face.

  8. If Chad did get purposefully violent… when then F you Chad. But if he didn’t and the whole thing was blown out of proportion… it was tough to see Chad’s life ripped apart. That last conversation with Philbin was a nail in the coffin.

  9. When Roethlisberger ran into trouble, Johnson didn’t care that Ben had never been in trouble, had never received any disciplinary action from the league, had never been arrested–which is more than we can say for Chad. Although the medical evidence showed no sexual assault had occurred in Roethlisberger’s case–which is why there was no arrest, he decided to step into something that was none of his business and challenge the league to suspend Roethlisberger. And he made his case on racial grounds. Yeah, he was cut on camera. Why not? He tried to get his face on camera every second of his career.

    What goes around, comes around. We just rarely get to see karma played out so perfectly.

  10. All because he didn’t follow Rule #1 of the Playas (not to be confused with Players) handbook.


    He should’ve tossed that damn condom receipt! What was he holding in to it for? A tax wrote off? Toss it in the garbage can at the 711

  11. Notice Chad never ONCE denied attacking his wife. His own words were ” I messed up big”. No way you don’t deny what happend and tell your side of the story if you are innocent IMO

  12. i like how when he walked into philbin’s office the first thing he did was start looking for the cameras in the room.

  13. Joe Philbin dragged that out too long. He should have just got to the point instead of trying to explain himself to Chad Johnson. Johnson was just awkwardly sitting there trying to defend himself. Would have been easier for both parties as they both looked uncomfortable.

  14. The reason it was the last thing shown was probably because it was the last thing that happened before it was time to produce the episode… in fact, I imagine a bit of a scramble.

    But I admit, I’ve never seen a single episode of Hard Knocks ’til this year, when my time signed on. This show is amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so into what was going on and I’ve been a huge Fin fan for 30 years.

    I might even attempt to watch reruns of the *cough* Jets *shudder* season when they come on now…

  15. Headbutting wasn’t it? That’s gonna look real good on his Wikipedia page: Here lies Chad “OchoSinko” Johnson career, Scorer of countless TD’s in the NFL, survivor of countless tackles by the best in the NFL . Career ended for headbutting in Miami, USA

  16. It seems to me that Chad was sensing the end of his career and in his desperation to hold on to the only world he has known, he decided to get cut for assault rather than for his declining ability.

    As a Pats fan, I know he can’t pick up the complexities of a playbook and what he is accused of is reprehensible but his antics and his talent have been a part of my NFL experience over the last 10 years and it is always a little sad to see an era end

  17. Man, as a Bills fan, even I thought that was rough to watch. I don’t have HBO, but I caught it on YouTube. The way it was described and the words that were said in the comment box didn’t do it any justice. Just think, these coaches have to do this every year to players, whether they are UDFA’s or or veterans trying to make the team.

  18. JUST like that T.O. is no longer public enemy #1.

    Brandon Marshall and T.O. should send Chad a gift basket or something.

    But these players really need to follow one simple rule, any woman you can find half naked photos of on the internet, you should not be with!

  19. I think people expected a Donal Trump “YOU’RE FIRED” type moment or something.

    This is real life. That is how “firings” go down in real life. Not a lot of debate. Gotta let ya go, sorry about this and that’s that.

  20. It was hard watching a man try to keep his job when he felt he didn’t do enough to lose it. Been in that situation before and I felt sorry for Chad Johnson for the 1st time in my life. I guess it was the 1st time I seen humility from him(that wasn’t forced). This woman just cost this man his job and then she is gonna dump him. That ain’t cool! Note To Self: Never marry a reality show star, the divorce papers will be filed before the wife’s bouquet hits the ground.

  21. We all have to read all of the negativity put out against our phish every year and every year we seem to prove everyone right….

    Coach Philbin will right this ship…. He is that old school coach Miami has needed for years and the fans have wanted to see since coach Shula….

    Chad had to go… He had his shot and he blew it…. We need talent here in sfla and we will get it….

    Talk all the crap you want, but we will be back on top…. Wait and see……

    Good luck Chad, sincerely…. But it’s time for us in sfla to move on

  22. Chad just wanted out of Miami, while at the same time spicing up his reality world, with enough time to catch onto a better team. He realized that he needs more time to get in shape, and play a few less meaningless regular season games. He wants a Superbowl, not a wildcard prayer!

  23. The reason she knew the condoms weren’t intended for her is because they weren’t her flavor.

  24. If you want to file for divorce that’s fine, but I think his wife made a big mistake pressing charges… She just cost her and her children about 985,000 dollars.

  25. Who hired Philbin? What a D-Bag. He has no leadership skills. He looks like a deer in headlights.
    He is as stiff as a board. He doesnt look anyone in the eye. He barely looks at the camera. Good luck Miami. Philbin is a stiff and there is zero talent on that team. They can be mentioned in the same breath as the Jags. The may win 3 games. Chad, adios you freaking loser…at least 4 kids no money in the bank, dumb as a rock…now what?

  26. The irony does not escape me. Hard Knocks, Chad, the timing, the increased social media possibilities….

    Or, Am I singing like a canary on the formula?

  27. Johnson survived on raw talent in Cinci. They probably let him freelance ala Lavar Arrington in Washington before Joe Gibbs came back.

  28. I really like Philbin and Tannenhill seems like he has a rocket. Chad looked clueless on the field and has lost a step, that alone doesn’t get you a roster spot – add domestic violence and the deal is final. I think we all know that 7/11 is getting that spot.

  29. 1st) Johnson was not lying as he has NOT been in trouble in his NFL career (he got drafted in 2001).

    2nd) the last thing I want to hear if I’m a Dolphins fan is that the Dolphins offense was too hard for a 12 year pro when you might be starting a rookie at QB with one of the worst passing offenses in the NFL and that was with Brandon Marshall and his stab happy wife.

  30. @mikeyfins

    As the hardworking, passionate football fan that you clearly try to portray yourself as. Please don’t mix up “how things work in the real world” with REALITY TELEVISION, on the basis of “how a man gets fired on ‘hard knocks'” (you clearly have)…… I’ve enjoyed some really good episodes of that show, but the only true “reality” in professional football happens on Sundays, and expensive, “pay-for-premium” television networks don’t air that (thank god)

  31. This is now the second team where the talk has been about inability to master the playbook. Among the other issues and peculiarities that are running around inside him, it is clear Chad has one or more significant learning disabilities and perceptual problems. He more than likely has extreme difficulty with reading skills. When he was with the Bengals, it must have been frustrating for Carson Palmer, as he probably never knew exactly where Chad would be regardless of the route called. Chad’s significant physical/football abilities when younger must have merited a personal tutor who would work with him and SHOW the various plays to the star wr, as the only way he could learn was in a visual modality. As he aged and his skills declined, he did not receive the star treatment/individual tutor on the Pats and Fins, hence his learning problems manifested themselves in obvious ways. He must have been very frustrated and extremely frightened that his disabilities would become known. The clownish antics and over-the-top behaviors more than likely were ways to cover up the learning deficiencies throughout his athletic career. In the end, this persona he used to cover up the learning problems, took over and ruined him. The public will never know unless he mentions it himself however, it’s the only conclusion that could explain why a person who has played organized football throughout his lifetime would have so much trouble mastering a playbook.

  32. It was terrible to watch that.

    We don’t have all the details about the incident, but so many are already convicting him without all the facts.

    The guy has probably done more for people than all of us put together.

  33. I am sorta wondering about the overall IQ level of the posters here, since all you idiots keep saying it was “brutal” or “hard” or “rough” watching Johnson get cut. LOL
    You ALREADY KNEW he was cut BEFORE tonight’s episode!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    How dumb are you guys, or do you also cry as you watch Titanic for the 54th time??

  34. The more I hear of this story, the more smells (I don’t watch reality TV).

    I already thought the marriage was a sham publicity stunt to begin with after learning more of who this lady is (yes, gulleable people that really goes on, my wife works in the entertainment business).

    In my opinion, Chad went out in a blaze of glory because he can’t thrive away from Cincinnati where they apparently let him work in his own rules without learning the details of the offense. It worked because they put up with it. He can’t thrive away from that organized chaos, and it’s over. He was going to get cut anyway eventually.

    From what I’ve heard of this young lady, she’s a by any means necessary, famous for no reason at all kim Kardashianesque “star.” I don’t know if they contrived it together, but it’s quite conceivable that she went along with it to shape up an image of her, which as I understand it isn’t all that great itself. From what my wife says, she’s quite well known in the entertainment circles by various men as a “jump off.”

    Their show getting cancelled isn’t a big deal because no one was watching it anyway, and they’ve already gotten paid for doing the dopey thing. This is a PR creation if I ever heard of one (and my wife agrees).

    The people who don’t believe so because of the details involved, like I said, PR people dream this kind of stuff up all day long, and you’d never believe some of the stuff they come up with. It’s like a bad movie.

  35. He never got into trouble since he been in the NFL. 2000, it’s 2012 people. COME ON PEOPLE! Give the guy a break, that chick is a dude with long hair.mChad, go to the Jets or Bills, and make their sorry $$$$$ pay! I think that is exactly what’s going to happen! Chad will get the last laugh!

  36. Without even factoring in the “off-field issue,” there’s no way he was going to make the team.

    His head coach, his quarterbacks (and I have to assume his receivers coach) all knew he didn’t know the playbook and he dropped more passes than he was catching. I’m surprised HBO didn’t add in a clanging sound effect every time a ball banged off his hands. All he did was run around, have a ball bounce off his hands and then flop on the ground.

    How was that going to get him a roster spot?

  37. So glad I’m not a Dolphins fan. That Philbin dude comes across as a slimy double-talker type, one of those people that’s nice to your face but would sell you out in a heartbeat for their own benefit. His speech to Chad was gross – with the fake empathy and then making it about himself.

    I’d bet $5000 right now that team goes nowhere as long as Philbin is in town. No doubt in my mind. The dude lacks integrity and it’s self-evident. No wonder Matt Flynn high tailed it out of there, that team is a mess.

  38. Deb, are you kidding me? Ben got busted following the 3rd woman he roughed up. The THIRD! Look into it. Ben is a sexual predator and should have been treated like one. He got off because he was the Steelers QB. Ben got lucky.

    If Chad head butted this woman he deserves the current situation he finds himself in. Unlike Ben who is still the starting QB.

    Karma will be when Ben get what he deserves.

    Deb says:
    Aug 14, 2012 11:27 PM
    When Roethlisberger ran into trouble, Johnson didn’t care that Ben had never been in trouble, had never received any disciplinary action from the league, had never been arrested–which is more than we can say for Chad. Although the medical evidence showed no sexual assault had occurred in Roethlisberger’s case–which is why there was no arrest, he decided to step into something that was none of his business and challenge the league to suspend Roethlisberger. And he made his case on racial grounds. Yeah, he was cut on camera. Why not? He tried to get his face on camera every second of his career.

    What goes around, comes around. We just rarely get to see karma played out so perfectly.

  39. Ortho,
    The world is not out to get you. You sign bums like chad Johnson then you get the bad PR. The phish should do a better job learning from history.

  40. “The big knock when he came here was he couldn’t pick up the system,” Philbin said.

    Fan of Chad’s or not, you have to admit that the guy isn’t bright enough to learn a playbook.

    Even back in the Natti, Palmer had to explain every play to him.

  41. I’m glad I spoiled the DVR’d episode by clicking this link. However, it truely does sound like a very sad situation for Chad, you can not deny that football is this mans life. I never understood the hate the man recieves from so many people, or the scrutiny of the rest of the leauge. All of his on-field antics resulted in sky-rocketing intrest in the Bengals, after a decade+ of some awful football. I was a fan of Chad Johnson becuase he was Chad Johnson. Sure, there are greats like Jerry Rice, who played at such a high level. That was their entertainment value. There was a stretch of 3-4 years where Chad was the ultimate entertainment the NFL had to offer, great stats, and fun to watch. I always wondered what his next TD dance would be, and usually didn’t have to wait long becasue it seemed he scored one every game. To say the Bengals were foolish to put up his antics is a cop out, he was one of the Bengal greats. Reuben Brown said it best yesterday, Chad didn’t evolve as he aged. He is a one-trick pony, playing the outside, hoping his speed is all he needs. Chad, I wish you luck, regardless of how things went down with your wife, I still am a fan.

  42. Looks like he took that “hard knocks” title too seriously.

    Telling us all he “loves his wife to death” isn’t all that smart after assaulting her either

    But FinFans should have had an inkling he’d have trouble learning the offense.. Hate to say it but we told you so.

    I hope Chad can find peace with life after football.

  43. Sad Chad. Its all fun and games till you cant catch the ball anymore, dont know your plays and start splitting open your new brides head. Child please. Go away.

  44. I have never seen a more timid man doing the firing than Joe Philbin. That man acted like he was about to cry! And offering excuse after excuse and actually even apologizing to Chad!! What a total wuss! My God, just fire the dude and move on! Surely you seen Mike McCarthy or someone do it before! Good luck Dolfans, I have a feeling you’re going need it with this meek timid little man in charge!

  45. Julius,
    For your information Matt Flynn is not a member of the Dolphins because they would not meet his contract terms and demands, not the other way around. People who have forgotten 1000’s of times more about football than you’ll ever know determined that his ROI was not adequate. Thanks for your concern regarding the integrety of our Coach but you needn’t be. Move along now.

  46. So this is the Chad Johnson that Belichick supposedly stifled into mediocrity and was going to have a monster year after getting his groove back?

    It looks an awful lot like the same guy who couldn’t learn a playbook a year ago.

  47. reality tv is successful because the people who consume it aren’t engaged enough in there own lives and as a result they need to gain emotional experience through watching others go through very emotional and stressful situations.

    Watching something like Hard Knocks is pretty much the equivalent of watching a soap opera.

  48. I know for a fact that HBO convinced Ross and Ireland to bring him in for the show. Philbin insisted that he have veto power if Ocho started acting up or becoming a distraction. HBO also offered to pay for some of Chad’s salary while the show was in production.

  49. How it actually went down in front of the cameras before editing:

    Philbin: “Chad we’re cutting you, now lets go get a Gosh Darn sandwich!”

  50. Unfortunately, I watched it. I don’t like that part of reality TV. I actually watch Hard Knocks because it’s good insight for my kids as to what goes on in an NFL training camp. Getting cut was kinda sad.

    That being said, being cut on TV actually helps Chad. He took it very professionally. And he looked pretty good on the tape (even though he was TERRIBLE during the preseason game!) So seeing all of this, and seeing the pending divorce, the reality show that is Chad’s life may be over. All he has left is his talent and his talk.

    So here’s the deal: I think he’s working this year. Some team is going to pick him up.

  51. I like Philbin. He is just what this football team needs. He’s not flashy. He’s competent, thoughtful and knows what he wants out of his players and holds them accountable. Those that have mocked him above do not understand leadership. There are many styles. It is not about false bravado or rah, rah motivation. Philbin’s leadership and integrity will lead the Dolphins out of the hole they have dug for themselves over the last decade

  52. Chad Johnson survived for a lot of years in this league as a talented receiver with the ability to learn an offense but no interest in doing so. That said, the real story here is that on Hard Knocks we are learning that the Dolphins are a much bigger circus sideshow act than CJ will ever be. I don’t think we’ve ever seen worse coaching/talent in the years the show has aired.

  53. So many of you talking heads on here spewing dirt about Chad Johnson must never know what it’s like to have both your personal and professional life implode all at once, and to have your character and intelligence questioned by people who don’t even know you. Pray that you never know that hopelessness and the shame, pray that your misfortunes don’t play out on television for pathetic armchair jocks to leer at and make a mockery of just so they can feel better about their own pathetic lives.

    I would never call myself 85’s biggest fan, but the man’s world has crumbled in the span of 5 days and the amount of ridicule he is getting is deplorable. We STILL don’t know what really happened between he and his wife; the fact that she was telling the neighbor to change the story during the 911 call is very fishy to me. Chad may be a diva, but this woman gets paid to portray DRAMA and TRASH on tv; you really think she was completely innocent in all of this? Please.

    I want nothing more for Chad to rise above this and come out the other side and give us another good year or two on the field. For all of his antics and his shortcomings, I don’t think he is cold-hearted and he doesn’t deserve to go out like this. Come to Dallas, Chad. Rise up out of the ashes and come retire wearing the star.

  54. I wonder if Philbin was that understanding when his own son(rip) was tagged for a double sexual assault. I supposed you can’t cut your own child from the family.

  55. Chad made his own bed he deserved what he got. Whats really disturbing from watching Hard Knocks is watching truly pathetic coaches and players do an injustice to a great game. Yes Miami is the armpit of the NFL.

  56. Well, I’m starting to think Chad Johnson must be mentally retarded. That would explain his brand of humor. Often, incredibly unintelligent people will try to hide this general lack of smarts by being the class clown. Now we’re learning he couldn’t grasp the last two playbooks, he graduated from high school later than normal, it took him an additional few years to get into a four-year college, and he didn’t have the sense to get rid of the condom documentation. Is it possible – and I’m being serious here – that Chad Johnson cannot read? You can use twitter while being functionally illiterate, but I’m thinking it would be difficult to memorize a playbook in that case. Also: is it possible he actually thought/thinks “ochocinco” is 85 in Spanish?

    I used to think Chad Johnson was funny and entertaining. Now he’s just kind of a tragicomic figure.

  57. chad retired years ago since the day he made his own H.O.F. hall of fame jacket way to premature hasnt been thought of since then. then 81 came in and torched his numbers that season. child please

  58. Maybe Chad can take up Boxing……

    Oh wait…… didn’t he once challenge Tom Zbikowski to a bout ?

    Man, if he can’t deal with his old lady what chance has he got of dealing with the likes of Tom ?

  59. @69finfan:

    You Dolphins fans and your denial is so hilarious. The day before Flynn signed with the Seahawks, all your team and local media was talking about was how signing Flynn was a top priority, and Philbin gave y’all the inside track. Everyone was sure Miami would sign him. Then he joins Seattle, tells the local press he preferred the locker room in Seattle and felt they had a better vibe going on, and suddenly Philbin’s talking sour grapes to anyone who will listen.

    Yeah sure, Flynn sucks. Your coach is so brilliant to have turned him down so they could… sign David Garrard? You gotta be kidding me. And then they draft Tannehill in the top 10? You can’t possibly think the Dolphins came out on top there.

    Seattle is paying about $8m/yr ($10m guaranteed) to take a flyer on Flynn, which is backup money. If the Dolphins balked over that little amount of money, then it’s just further proof that nobody in the Dolphins’ front office belongs in the NFL. And it makes it obvious that Philbin was lying to cover up his embarrassment at being shunned by Flynn. How else do you let a potential starter at QB walk away for backup money? What a joke. The Dolphins are doomed to mediocrity as long as that circus sideshow front office and creepy Philbin are around. Bank on it.

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