For Dolphins, Johnson's antics not worth it

For Dolphins, Johnson's antics not worth it

Published Aug. 13, 2012 3:43 p.m. ET

DAVIE, Fla. — Chad Johnson’s NFL career is close to being over. It’s not necessarily because his talent is diminishing, it’s more because his talent is no longer good enough to overshadow his antics.

The 34-year-old wide receiver's contract was terminated by the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, a day after he was arrested on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge stemming from an incident in which he allegedly head-butted his wife.

Johnson wasn't released solely because of the arrest, according to the Dolphins.

“It’s more about the fit,” Miami coach Joe Philbin said Monday. “In my gut, I didn’t think the fit was going to be beneficial to either party moving forward, whether in the short term or the long term.”

Many would have given Johnson another chance, a little more time.

But Philbin believes Johnson, a six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, wasn’t going to fall in line. He didn’t fall in line yesterday, he wouldn’t tomorrow, and he probably wouldn’t next week.

In Philbin’s eyes, Johnson showed he’s more about himself than the team. Philbin said Johnson’s release was a reflection of all of his actions since he signed with Miami on June 11.

Reaction among players seemed mixed. Linebacker Karlos Dansby told local radio station WMEN (640-AM) he thought Johnson deserved another chance. Safety Reshad Jones seemed to agree.

“It was shocking to see he was going to be released after this incident,” Jones said. “It was pretty shocking.”

But defensive end Cameron Wake seemed unmoved and philosophical. He said he’d miss Johnson as a friend.

“But at the end of the day your friends aren’t going to help you win football games,” Wake said. “You need football players, and he’s not on the team right now, so we’re moving forward.”

Obviously, Philbin didn’t feel good having about Johnson on his team. Plain and simple. He didn’t think Johnson would ever be talented enough to overcome the distractions he’d create.

“It was really just about a feel,” Philbin said.

Johnson was coming off a lackluster season in New England in which he had just 15 receptions for 276 yards and one touchdown. He said he felt stifled in the Patriots’ stuffy system. He said he felt he could breathe again now that he was back in his hometown of Miami, he could be himself. He said he was about business. Not true.

Johnson was about clowning, showing out, doing crazy stuff, as evidenced by his profanity-laced introductory news conference.

It was all very entertaining, and many in attendance laughed the entire time. I laughed. Yeah, that’s bizarre behavior, but that’s Chad. That’s what I thought at the time.

Clearly, that’s not what Philbin thought.

These types of things might have been OK if Johnson were coming off a pair of 1,000-yard receiving seasons, or if he’d just put up back-to-back 10-touchdown seasons. Good players get a longer leash. That’s the way it works. The marginally talented players, the older guys and the ones whose contributions can be easily replaced, well, their contracts are terminated.

Johnson was warned by Philbin about his behavior. One such conversation was captured by the “Hard Knocks” cameras during a practice. Maybe Johnson didn’t believe Philbin. Maybe Johnson misread the situation. Maybe Johnson didn’t think Philbin had the guts to cut him. But Philbin did cut him, and he did so without basking in the decision as though it were some kind of personal victory.

“It’s not about one person flexing muscles,” Philbin said.

Of course, you wonder if Philbin’s reaction would have been the same if this were a crucial player, say, Wake, a defensive leader, or Pro Bowl tackle Jake Long. Probably not. They’d still be on the roster. They’re difference-makers.

On the other hand, neither Long nor Wake would have pushed the envelope as far as Johnson did in such a short period of time. Johnson had done nothing for the team, he brought nothing to the table. And here he was, drawing attention to himself in a very bad way. Philbin sent a message that such nonsense won’t be tolerated.

“It wasn’t done to send a message,” Philbin said once again. “It just didn’t feel right.”

Now, at least two teams — Miami and New England, which released him in June — don’t want Johnson.

And, by the way, when Philbin said “it just didn’t feel right” to keep Johnson, don’t ignore that. Those are bad words. They serve as a warning to anyone else who might have interest in him. He’s probably not your type of guy.

That, as much as anything, is why Johnson is unemployed right now. And it might be why he’s unemployable in the near future.