Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson usually isn't seen on television without a smile and fun-loving showmanship. Wednesday it was quite a different look with Johnson on the set of NFL Network during its Super Bowl coverage.
Johnson finished third in the league with 1,440 receiving yards – a Bengals franchise record – in 2007 and tied for 12th in the NFL with 93 receptions (his teammate T.J. Houshmandzadeh led the league with 112). In 2006, Johnson led the league with 1,369 yards.
The Vikings' top two receivers in 2007 – Bobby Wade and Robert Ferguson – didn't combine for as many catches as Johnson. In fact, their top three receivers as far as yardage – Wade with 647, Sidney Rice with 396 and Ferguson with 391 – still came up 6 yards short of Johnson's yardage total in 2007.
It all makes for intriguing – although potentially unlikely – trade fodder for Vikings fans desperate to see the team's receiving corps upgraded.
At the end of an awkward interview in which Johnson didn't seem to want to elaborate too much on his feelings, he was asked if he was frustrated. "I sure am. Stuff is just not right right now, period," he said in reference to the Bengals.
Earlier in the month, Johnson appeared on ESPN radio and also intimated that he wanted to be traded.
"The only thing for me to do or say now is: If you guys, as a team and organization, want to further yourself in the playoffs, I think you need to get rid of what the problem was during the season," Johnson said on ESPN radio, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
On Wednesday, Johnson reiterated that he was pointed to as being a problem with the Bengals, but Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has said Johnson isn't about to be traded.
"He's going to go back and be a pro and go forward and play. As I said then, there will be no trade of Chad Johnson. Repeat it again," Lewis was quoted as saying on ESPN.com earlier this month.
Less than two years ago, Johnson signed a $35.5 million extension that was to keep him with the Bengals through 2011.
It's no surprise the Bengals wanted to sign him to an extension. He now has six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and 49 career touchdowns.
But much of Johnson's appearance on NFL Network indicated he'd still prefer to be traded. He said he didn't have anything to say to Lewis, then added, "I want to go anywhere where I have the opportunity to win consistently, anywhere where I have a chance to get here (the Super Bowl), the playoffs. My time is ticking, my clock is ticking. I'm getting old."
When former NFL head coach and current NFL Network commentator Steve Mariucci tried to tell Johnson that the Bengals were building, Johnson responded, "We can't be building after going 11-5 and then two years going completely backwards. That's not building."
After going 11-5 in 2005, the Bengals have been 8-8 and 7-9 in the last two seasons, and Johnson seemed bothered when the NFL Network crew said the Bengals could be a playoff team in the coming years.
Early in the interview he said things with the Bengals were "OK" and he also indicated that he gets along with Lewis. But Johnson also indicated he has taken more than his share of the blame for the Bengals' struggles the last two seasons.
"That same flare and dash got me in trouble this year for criticizing," he said, later adding that he didn't know what uniform he'd be wearing in 2008. "When I was a child and I was the problem, my mom dealt with me."
From the way he started his interview – "We're in the same state of mind. We're all looking for new jobs." – and the way he ended it – "I could be here with you all this year, in a suit. I might have to hang it up. You never know." – all indications are that Johnson is trying to force a trade.
In an interview earlier in the month, Johnson has even reportedly told Bill Parcells of his hometown Miami Dolphins to call him.
Whether the Vikings would want to take on a personality like Johnson's is questionable, but they could certainly use his receiving production.
Chad Johnson Voices More Frustration
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