Chad Johnson is back in football.
It's not exactly what the one-time star receiver envisioned, probably, but it'll do. Johnson, who is mostly known for his time with the Bengals, signed with the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes, the league announced on Thursday.
It's unlikely that this could lead to a NFL return. He's 36 and his last four seasons in the NFL weren't too productive. He was cut by the Dolphins before the 2012 season after he was arrested on simple battery/domestic violence charges. Johnson has let it be known, mostly through his Twitter feed, how much he regrets how his time in the NFL ended.
The CFL isn't the NFL, but that's fine with him.
"A dream of mine since I was 4 years old was taken from me, rightfully so, by my wrongdoings and I just want to get back to doing something that I love to do, regardless of where it is," Johnson said, according to the New York Daily News. "Montreal, flag football, back in the street the way I grew up. I just want to play football.”
Johnson is taking a rather unusual path. There aren't many established NFL stars who have gone to play in Canada after the NFL wouldn't give them a job. Running back Ricky Williams (who was suspended for a year by the NFL), defensive end Mark Gastineau, running back Lawrence Phillips and receiver Andre Rison are a few who have played in Canada after starring in the United States. Others, like Warren Moon, Doug Flutie or Cameron Wake have gone to the NFL after showing off their pro talent in Canada first. But reviving a once-successful NFL career by going to Canada first is very rare.
Johnson is, by all accounts, in great shape, and he's likely to be motivated after being out of football. Will a strong showing in Canada be enough to get even one NFL team interested in him? That's unlikely, but it sounds like the NFL isn't consuming his thoughts right now. He just wanted to be on a team again. If nothing else, the CFL should be even more entertaining because of him.
- - - - - - -