His arrival from Cincinnati was met with excitement, anticipation and wondering of what could be. Patriots fans have been salivating at the thought of a rejuvenated Ochocinco catching passes from Tom Brady. They daydreamed about what two football-fused pals like Ochocinco and Bill Belichick could scheme up as their mutual respect for one another ("Billllll!!!") is taken to another level.
And while fans will have to wait until Thursday's preseason opener at the very earliest for those products of imagination to come to fruition, one thing has been abundantly career. The Chad Ochocinco era in New England is going to be a lot of fun.
Ochocinco is already doing everything he can to make himself a member of the community, one that just happens to play football for a living.
He's already taken in a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, dressed head-to-toe in red and blue. He's taken advantage of the opportunity to meet Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. He calls Foxboro heaven, and he does so while driving a Prius. Perhaps most appropriately for a new Bostonian, he's struggling some with finding his away around.
Don't worry, though, he's looking to his new roommate(s) for help on that one — as long as they've got Internet and an X-Box, naturally.
He's embraced his time in New England head on, and seems genuinely excited to be able to become part of the community. In an era where athletes are ultra-private (especially in a market like Boston) Ochocinco is showing a willingness to open his life up to fans that we haven't seen since, well, Shaquille O'Neal actually.
If you think about it, it's hard not to be reminded of Shaq's short-lived Boston tenure when you look at how the Ochocinco days are shaping up in Boston.
Both came in with personalities so big that they could be matched only by their respective armies of Twitter followers. Winning appeared to be the single-biggest motive for both to want to come to Boston. That ended up being the reason O'Neal chose Boston, and you have to think that's the reason Ochocinco is genuflecting at the alter of Brady and Belichick. That, or Cincinnati is really that bad, but you get the picture.
And they both came to Boston and hit the ground running. Shaq showed a willingness to do anything with anyone in Boston, as long as it was a good time. He conducted an orchestra. He hung out at Cheers. He celebrated his birthday at a children's museum. He did his best Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson imitation and crashed a wedding. He played the part of a freaking statue for crying out loud.
He was never afraid to mingle with his fans, and for that, those same fans loved him, despite the fact that his contributions on the court were meager at best. As interesting and captivating as the big fella was, it was sometimes tough to take him seriously because of his production, or lack thereof.
It's starting to look like Ochocinco, like Shaq, will be just as open to trying new things to bring himself closer to his fans. Of course, General Belichick may have something to say about, but as long as Ochocinco keeps his nose to the grindstone and his mout relatively shut, you have to think that maybe Belichick will let him be himself.
We can only hope.
But the Ochcoinco-Shaq comparisons should end there. Shaq came to Boston as an over-the-hill big man, and that showed often. He was never really right for the C's, and his one year in Boston, at least in terms of basketball, his contributions in just one year were limited to say the least.
Ochocinco, on the other hand, comes in to an already strong group of receivers where he will be asked to simply contribute and not necessarily be the man as was often the case in Cincy. And you just cannot argue that one of the better route-runners in football will be catching passes from one of the best passers the game has ever seen.
On paper, the marriage between Chad Ochcoinco and the New England Patriots should be one that flourishes on the field and off.
No matter how the Ochocinco era turns out in New England, though, the past few weeks have already shown us that one thing will be definite. It's sure going to be a helluva time.
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