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First Person

Chad Johnson, Bengals Wide Receiver

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Chad Johnson, Bengals Wide Receiver
Chad Johnson, Bengals Wide Receiver
Michael J. LeBrecht II/1Deuce3 Photography

As told to Michael Silver

On players who say he is boisterous and calls too much attention to himself

It doesn't bother me at all. I know where to draw the line, and I seldom p--- anybody off. Cincinnati hadn't had any excitement in years before last season, and I promised myself that as long as I'm here, I'm always going to give fans something to look forward to.

On reaching his prime as a receiver

I'm not at the top yet. I'm very, very good; to the naked eye it looks like, What more can he do? But there's much room for improvement. My offensive coaches never give me praise. My position coach Hue Jackson's favorite line is, "Right now, you're 365 degrees below fly s---." It's the little details, like running the same route the same way every time, so Carson [Palmer, the Bengals' QB] always knows where I am. Those details can make the difference between a play going 10 or 50 yards.

On his favorite sports

I played soccer before football, and I was good. That's where I get my quick feet -- my feet are unbelievable. When I got to high school [Miami Beach High], I had to choose between the sports because they were in the same season. I chose football because I saw more opportunity, but it broke my heart. I still follow soccer; I watched every minute I could of the World Cup. I like to think I play football like Ronaldinho, with the trick moves and the anticipation. When he plays soccer, he looks completely different from everybody else. I try to do that too.

On his success (772 receiving yards and six TDS in his last eight games) against the division-rival Ravens

I don't know what it is, but it's like Christmas every time I face them. Maybe it's that [Baltimore linebacker] Ray Lewis and I are friendly rivals or that I get more anxious the better the competition -- but I devour that defense. The Ravens bring out my best. One thing I need to work on is staying at that high level of intensity all the time, instead of playing down to my competition.

On his touchdown celebrations

I don't know why the NFL is worried about them. They want everything about the game to be perfect -- at least what they consider perfect. The pants have to hit the socks exactly right, the uniforms have to be exact. The way they treat you, it's almost like being in jail. It's crazy, because when I come up with a new celebration, the fans love it.

On his friendship with Terrell Owens

We talk every week, about touchdown celebrations and all sorts of stuff. I got to know him about three years ago. He's someone I look up to as a receiver, and he's a cool guy off the field, too.

On his ultimate dinner party

Me, Oprah, Jay-Z and Bill Gates. But not for dinner. I'd take them to Wet Willie's in South Beach on Memorial Day weekend, when Miami's going off. I'm pretty sure they all drink. And I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have to pick up the check.


Issue date: October 16, 2006