Smile When You Say That - By John Smathers
Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial
|Chad Johnson is suddenly an authority on what is rude.
It seems the Cincinnati Bengals attention whore -- I mean, wide receiver -- saw the video of Bill Cowher's post-Super Bowl 'Who Dey' mockery for the first time pre Steelers game -- so he says -- when Bengals coach Marvin Lewis felt it necessary to screen it for his players. Lewis apparently is a big believer in bulletin board material as motivation.
That speaks volumes about Lewis' coaching abilities and Cincinnati's resolve to shed its loser reputation once and for all, doesn't it? Playing the Super Bowl champions at Pittsburgh this Sunday, defending its AFC North title and establishing a two-game lead on the Steelers isn't motivation enough? Or does Lewis think he's coaching a high school team?
After witnessing Cowher's abominable behavior, Johnson stuck his tongue in his cheek and told reporters the antics were 'very rude.' He should have smiled. The act wasn't complete without flashing the gold.
Using the Terrible Towel as a bib and a shine rag, of course, are appropriate behavior, but mocking a chant in front of Cowher's own players and fans -- and not the other team's players and fans, mind you, something the Bengals would never, ever dream of doing -- is somehow an egregious offense.
You know, Johnson should spend a little less time on honing his clown skills, such as:
- trying to look like a severely slimmed down version of WWE wrestler Viscera (it can be the only possible inspiration for that laughable hair styling ... seriously, Google Viscera and you be the judge - it's eerie)
- trying to become the first ever NFL player with a 24-carat mouth (the good news for Chad is that the Browns probably knocked a few more teeth loose, giving him an excuse to buy more gold chiclets)
- working on his player-coach relationships (somehow I can't see him punching anybody, but he's apparently quite emotional)
- planning, rehearsing and elaborately announcing upcoming end zone sideshows and consequently spending less time actually improving and focusing on his game
But he's hardly alone in this disciplined Bengals locker room. Here's what T.J. Houshmandzadeh had to say Thursday when asked about his shoeshine act at Heinz Field last year, long before Cowher offended his tender sensibilities: "I regret I didn't do it in the end zone when I scored; that's what I regret. That's when I should have done it, but I didn't have one at the time. I would have done it."
He went on to imply, in short, that maybe he could whoop up on Joey Porter. Judging from earlier similar comments directed toward Porter by Johnson, the Bengals seem to be fixated here. I don't know, maybe the Bengals just love miniature horses.
But this isn't about comparing offensive behavior and bulletin boards. It's about Johnson, who is rapidly becoming just a caricature of himself rather than the potential leader of a Super Bowl champion. It's about Bengals wide receivers less concerned with winning than they are about making a statement. With the Bengals, the two are not the same. They just don't realize it and their coach fails -- again -- to point this out to them.
Maybe you can tell ... I've never been a big fan of bravado, showboating and runny mouths, just great football. Just show me great football. Keep your self-created distractions to a minimum, make great plays and win. That's what the Steelers did last year. Get it?
If I were commissioner, damn the lawsuits and full speed ahead, because Terrell Owens would be playing in the arena league, Johnson would be making Fatheads and not posing for them, and angry young men like Houshmandzadeh would be in therapy. I don't think it's a coincidence that those people, along with notables such as Randy Moss and Steve Smith, don't have Super Bowl rings. Loads of talent and hot air, but no Super Bowl rings.
Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders are exceptions, but unfortunately, winning Super Bowls didn't do anything positive for their character and in Sanders' case, he just shopped himself around until he found a team that could take him to the Super Bowl -- twice. Not surprisingly, they are today Owens' biggest apologists.
But I digress. When Porter spouts off or Hines Ward mocks an opponent's touchdown dance, I cringe. I'm a big fan of saving your trash talk for the field and handing the ball to the referee when you score. A little dissing or a spike here and there is a show of emotion. Everything else is just choreographed nonsense. And if the league really wanted to snuff it out, it would hand out suspensions. Instead, the NFL encourages it. One day, it will be like going to a WWE event and seeing a football game break out, with Jim Ross calling the play-by-play:
"Viscera makes a one-handed grab and drags both feet for the touchdown. But what's this? He's climbing the goal post and he's ... HE'S GOING TO PERFORM HIS SIGNATURE MOVE, THE SPLASH, ON THAT HELPLESS FOOTBALL. SOMEBODY STOP THIS! OH, DEAR GOD, NOOOOO!"
Love the 'do, Chad. You really should call Vince McMahon and offer your services for WrestleMania 23. You'd make a great Mini-Me.
Anyway, point is, the Steelers have a long way to go to catch up with the Bengals in the ignoramus department. In that sense, the path to the Super Bowl championship wasn't really that long. The Steelers needed discipline and resolve. And that's why I don't believe Lewis' Bengals will ever hoist a Lombardi Trophy.