Chad Johnson (Yunner/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)
I have never been a big fan of Chad Johnson, the now former wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins. Although he was entertaining I felt he was always looking out for himself before the team and that is not a trait I would want in a teammate. Too disruptive and a distraction to the team game.
After watching HBO’s Hard Knocks showcasing the Miami Dolphins I may have found a soft spot for old 85. As the exchange between coach Joe Philbin and Johnson unfolded in which Joe was cutting Johnson, I was transported back fifteen years or so to the time I was cut by the New York Islanders.
It was my third year pro and I really felt that I was ready to have a very strong showing in camp. I was hoping to maybe make the team or at least position myself to be the first call up player from the AHL.
Right away it was clear I wasn’t in the mix for any kind of opportunity. I was practicing with the duds and even more telling was my stall. It was so far away from the main locker room I think I was set up across the street at a local bagel shop! (good breakfast burrito)(solid raspberry lemonade as well)
On day three of camp I was asked to play in a rookie game. Back then they were fight fests! A quick look at our opposing teams lineup, the New York Rangers and then at ours and I realized why I was playing. My team needed toughness. So be it. I would do anything to get noticed. Let’s get it on.
Half way through the second period I was just wrapping up my third fight. I was out of the game and feeling pretty good about my chances of having been noticed. Soon after I was sitting in the training room, icing down my hands, which looked like hell. An assistant coach comes in and says Mike Milbury, the G.M., wants to see me.
I thought this meeting could be a promising sign for my camp to turn around until Milbury proceeds to tell me I was being sent down! He says I have no future with his organization and I can have my agent attempt to work out a trade to another team but most likely nobody will want me.
Wow! Talk about a kick in the Crown Royal Bag. I was still sweating from fighting for his organization and he slits my throat. Talk about the tough side of pro sports.
I ended up using that talk as motivation so my story ended a lot differently then I believe Johnson’s will but that is a terrible feeling to experience.
Johnson was cut for other reasons then I was. But I recognized the look on his face of utter disappointment. I couldn’t imagine going through that on T.V. Brutal.
When the season starts and players are bring sent down to the minors, cut or waived give them a little sympathy. It sucks no matter what age you are.