I was not shocked when I read today that Cincinatti Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco was fined for his actions in Sunday’s football game. For those who didn’t hear about this, Ochocinco (God I hate writing that) walked up to a ref while a play was being reviewed and offered him a single dollar bill to call the pass in to help pad Chad’s stats. Roger Goodell responded to this with a $20,000 fine for violation of laws concerning abuse of officials and possession of extraneous objects on the field of play.
Now, this incident will hopefully teach a lesson to Chad Ochocinco: it is possible to go too far, at which point there are very serious consequences to one’s actions. A line should probably be drawn somewhere, and in this case it was drawn with bribery, even if it was goofy and well-intentioned bribery at best. Chad can learn from this and use it as a way to temper himself a little bit. Ochocinco’s act in the past has gotten old, especially when he was on failing Bengals teams like those of the last few years. Now that the Bengals are winning we are willing to put up with his act a little bit more. But maybe this will reset his focus. Now that the Bengals ARE winning, he shouldn’t be wasting energy coming up with silly stunts to pull during games; he should be focusing on being as effective a wide receiver as he can possibly be. His half-assed plea to the commissioner after the game to not get him in trouble shows he doesn’t take the game seriously enough, and maybe this fine will wake him up a bit and make him respect the game that has made him a star.
By the letter of the law, this is without doubt a violation that should result in a fine. But we have to ask ourselves: did Chad really hurt anybody by his actions? Replays of the incident show the ref wasn’t even paying any attention to Ochocinco while he was doing this. And can any intelligent person really see the offering of a single dollar bill as a legitimate attempt to bribe an official? Of course not. Ochocinco was clearly just messing around, as he is prone to do. His football career is rife with humorous incidents, both on and off the field. Analysis of this incident should prove it to be nothing more than “Chad being Chad.”
Despite the validity of the fine, I feel like the NFL could be doing better things with its time. There are at least three major issues I see in the NFL: the overprotective quarterback rules, the prevalence in recent games of violent outbreaks, and the long-term toll playing football takes on players’ bodies and brains (just look at Ted Johnson! Dude’s a mess!). All of these are real issues that are damaging the sanctity of football (which in the past I’ve called a balance between perfection and destruction), and until they are addressed, why waste time sending the class clown to the corner and making him where the dunce cap? Everyone knows the best way to deal with clowns is just to ignore them.