Dolphins wide receiver Chad Ochocinco made good on his promise to his new bride, and reported on Monday that he officially changed his last name back to Johnson. His new wife, Evelyn Lozada, didn’t want to have a whimsical, made-up last name, and so Chad agreed to the change. He had promised to make the change soon after announcing his engagement.
“I’m refocused and locked in. Time to get back to the old me,” he told ESPN. ”I’m just doing it for the marriage. It has nothing to do with football. Ochocinco is still in me. It’s just my middle name.”
It may not have anything to do with football, but the change raises an interesting question – will returning to his old name bring back the old Chad Johnson?
Johnson had a stellar career, but there was a significant drop off in his production after the name change. Johnson changed his name before the 2008 season, after being fined for putting the made up name (based on his jersey number 85) on the back of his jersey in 2007. After the name change, the jersey read Ochocinco, and the player didn’t look the same. (Incidentally, he has confirmed that his Dolphins Jersey will read “Johnson” for the upcoming season.)
Compare the stats between Chad Johnson and Chad Ochocinco:
Chad Johnson went to five consecutive Pro Bowls in seven season; Ochocinco made only 1 Pro Bowl in four season.
Johnson exceeded 1,100 yards in six consecutive seasons (from 2002-2007); Ochocinco never reached 1,100 yards in a season and only reached 1,000 yards once.
Ignoring his rookie season, when he played in 12 games and had only 28 receptions, Johnson averaged over 88 receptions and over 1,300 yards in his last six years as Johnson. Ochocinco averaged under 52 receptions and just 674 yards per season over the last four years.
Certainly, age and changing scenery could be a factor, but many receivers continue top level production through their early 30s and Johnson is a workout warrior who stays in excellent conditioning (including working out with a professional soccer team during the lockout). Johnson is 34 now and was just 30 when he changed his name.
Only time will tell if he adds to the Johnson legacy as he leaves his pseudonym to the one place where Ochocinco has no NFL rivals… on Twitter.