Even though he has legally dropped his “Ochocinco” moniker, Chad Johnson says the name he legally adopted for three years will remain a part of him. “Ochocinco is still in me,” he told ESPN.com. “It’s just my middle name.”
The wide receiver originally gave himself the nickname “Ochocinco” in 2006, inspired by the number 85 he wore on the football field. He legally changed his surname from Johnson to Ochocinco before the 2008 season so that it would appear on the back of his jersey. He wore that name for four seasons, adorning the back of his uniforms on the Bengals and the Patriots.
Johnson has alluded to the possibility of legally dropping the Ochocinco name several times over the years. In January 2010, the receiver said he would change his name back to Johnson if Jets cornerback Farelle Revis shut him down. It seemed a sure bet after Johnson tweaked his knee in the warm-ups before that game; he ended that day with zero catches for zero yards. A week later in the playoffs, his performance was nearly as grim: he had only had two catches for 28 yards against the Jets. But he kept his name, saying that his original comments were made in jest.
This time, though, it’s serious. The wide receiver changed his name on his Twitter account (where he has over 3.6 million followers) a couple of weeks ago, and changed it legally on Monday. But this was no gametime gamble — it was, in fact, all in the name of love.
We can thank the new Mrs. Ochocinco — er, we mean Mrs. Johnson — for his return to normalcy. His new wife, reality television star Evelyn Lozada, was not excited by the idea of taking a numerical last name when she married. So Johnson told friends earlier this summer that he would make a trip to the courthouse to ensure that his new wife would not have a “made up last name.” We already like her.
Now the question is whether with the return of Johnson comes the return of Johnson-level play. Whereas Chad Johnson was a six-time Pro Bowler for the Cincinnati Bengals, averaging nearly 80 receptions over the course of seven seasons, Chad Ochocinco averaged only 51.75 receptions in four seasons. He was cut by the New England Patriots after a career-low 15 receptions in 2011 and signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins in June. Miami is hoping that with the name-change maybe the 34-year-old receiver can bring back some of the old Chad Johnson magic too.