Arbitrator's decision on T.O. could have lasting effects
Posted: Monday November 14, 2005 9:28AM; Updated: Monday November 14, 2005 2:37PM
Many people believe Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson would like to renegotiate his contract.
Peter King will answer your questions each week in Monday Morning Quarterback: Tuesday Edition.
CHARLOTTE -- I have taken out the Magic 8 Ball. I know those things are big on short answers predicting the future, but I need a long answer. I wonder: What exactly will happen if arbitrator and Washington Redskins season ticket holder Richard Bloch (an interesting conflict of interest for someone ruling on an issue involving the Philadelphia Eagles) overturns the Eagles' suspension of Terrell Owens on Friday? I ask, and the Magic 8 Ball ... wait, what's this?
"A dispatch from the Associated Press, Nov. 14, 2006,'' it says.
And it begins spitting out this tale from the cloudy black ball:
NEW YORK (AP) -- Arbitrator Richard Bloch, citing the precedent of the 2005 Terrell Owens case, today freed wide receiver Chad Johnson from the Cincinnati Bengals, despite the team's claim it had a valid contract with him through 2009, ending a bitter contract dispute with the team and putting the colorful receiver on the open market immediately.
In a stunning development, Johnson seemed close to signing a long-term contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 7-3 Bengals are tied with Pittsburgh atop the AFC North with six games to play, including a crucial Week 16 game at Pittsburgh.
"I knew all along the Bengals couldn't hold me down,'' a jubilant Johnson said after the hearing. Johnson was flanked by his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, who won the same kind of case a year ago with Owens.
The Bengals accepted the arbitrator's ruling with anger.
"I have no idea what a contract means anymore,'' said Bengals president Mike Brown. "We had the contractual right to deactivate Chad for the rest of the season as long as we paid him. We fully intended to pay him, yet the arbitrator said our rules don't matter.''
The Bengals had been asking Bloch to uphold their contractual rights to Johnson. As with Owens and the Eagles, Cincinnati tired of Johnson's divisive complaints about his contract. After he refused to dress for a game two weeks ago against Pittsburgh, the Bengals said he would be suspended for four weeks and then deactivated each of the remaining five weeks of the season. The Bengals also said Johnson would be waived after the season. Bloch's ruling, eerily similar to the one he made last year when he freed Owens from his Eagles' contract with six games left in the season, ends the Bengals' suspension of Johnson at two games and means he can immediately sign with any team.