where's the key?"
Chad Johnson, his
younger brother, Chauncey, and the rest of Chad's posse are standing on the
corner of Sixth and Ocean Drive in South Beach, under the late-afternoon sun
and amid too many Saturday revelers in town for tomorrow's Miami Carnival
who've been taking advantage of Florida's liberal open-container laws. The
sidewalks are thronged, and the tall, fine-looking fellow with the blond Mohawk
is exerting a powerful pull on his fellow Americans.
"You're on my
fantasy team, Chad, and I'm counting on you," says a puffy guy with
sunburned shoulders in a white tank top. "You're my man. Sign this." He
holds out a receipt.
An older couple,
in matching khaki shorts and polo shirts, stops. The gentleman hands Johnson a
couple of business cards. "Can you sign these? I wish the Tar Heels had you
A German tourist
wanders over. "Excuse me," he asks. "You are Wesley
Johnson is always
willing to sign, pose, smile, please. The Cincinnati Bengals' star receiver
understands the deal he has made. By playing to the football media, by
boasting, preening, celebrating, ripping, taunting and generally becoming the
noisiest wide receiver north of Terrell Owens, he knows he'll be recognized,
beseeched and put upon wherever he goes. Still, even number 85--or Ocho Cinco,
as he goes by when he's here in his hometown of Miami--has his limits.
"Who's got the
key?" he asks again. This is ridiculous. His Lamborghini is just sitting
there, yellow and sparkling and ready to whisk him away as yet another football
fan--this one in a number 85 Bengals jersey--approaches as if ready to take a
knee and hold up a diamond ring.
Finally a valet
appears. "The key?" Johnson says, making a turning-the-ignition gesture
with his right hand. "The key?"
The valet nods,
flips through a stack of tickets, then shakes his head. "For what?"