chad-johnson-763568From the outset, we would like to say that we love the NFL and we love Chad Ochocinco, nee Chad Johnson.  We think that NFL football is the single greatest sport on Earth, and we miss it terribly in the spring and summer months.  Also, we believe that in league devoid of personality, the antics of the Cincinnati Bengals’ flamboyant wide receiver are a refreshing breath of fresh air (his not-so-impromptu proposal to a cheerleader after scoring a touchdown against the Colts in 2005 was among the funniest things we have ever seen on a football field.  The Riverdance thing wasn’t bad, either.)

So last weekend, in a game against the Baltimore Ravens, Chad was up to his old tricks again.  During a break to check out the replay of a catch it looked like he made along the sidelines, Ochocinco walked up to the referees with one dollar in his hand in a joking attempt to bribe the official into ruling in his favor.  We emphasize, this was a joke, and actually a pretty funny one.  And we again say for effect that it was ONE DOLLAR. The referees did not take the dollar, nor did they end up ruling in his favor.  The pass in question was ruled incomplete.  So no harm done, just a little levity in the middle of a football game. Everybody laughed.  No big deal.

“I was just being me,” Ochocinco told the NFL Network after the game. “I wasn’t going to do it for real.”

So no big deal, right? Not to the curmudgeons at the NFL. In its continuing efforts to legislate the fun out of professional football, the league decided to fine Chad Ochocinco $20,ooo for this stunt.  According to ESPN, a high ranking NFL official said  “the integrity of the game is critical to us. Making light of bribing and gambling will not be taken lightly. His action in itself merited the fine but he acknowledged by his comments that he knew what he was doing.”

Ray Anderson, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, said in a letter to Ochocinco “the very appearance of impropriety is not acceptable. Your conduct was unprofessional and unbecoming an NFL player.”

To this we say, come on! Or as The Joker would say, why so serious?As you can tell from the photo above, Ochocinco is no stranger to being fined by the NFL (this photo was taken  back in 2003).  But seriously? This fun little stunt is what has NFL’s panties in a bunch?  It was a joke!  And it was a fairly funny one.  People watch professional football to be entertained. And Chad Ochocinco is one of the league’s best entertainers. And even for someone making as much money as Ochocinco does, you don’t find $20,000 in the cushions of your sofa. NFL, you may think that you are protecting the integrity of the game by handing down this ridiculously obsessive fine, but really you are just making the league look silly.