Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson on the Patriot Way: 'When you walk in the building, you can feel it'


6 rings: Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson joins the show to talk Patriots, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, Mac Jones, and more

Prior to Sunday’s 24-17 Patriots loss to the Dolphins, I sat down with Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, one of the best wide receivers of his generation, for an exclusive interview with from the EA Sports Madden Cruiser.

Once a Patriot, but also a four-time All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler, Johnson and I spoke about playing football in Foxborough, his dominance as a pass catcher, and how much time Bill Belichick has left as a head coach in the NFL. Here’s a transcription.

You can also listen to the full episode on the Audacy app, or watch it here:

Chad Ochocinco joins the 6 Rings podcast

Mike Kadlick: At your peak, you were dominant. Did you feel like you could do anything on the field? Was it difficult?

Chad Johnson: “Obviously, everything was hard work, but I enjoyed masking it through entertainment. When you think about the NFL, one of the things people always say about players that excel and play good, they would say: oh, he works so hard.”

Well, duh. To get to this point and to play at the highest level and be in the 1% of the world in the NFL, you have to work hard. I enjoyed going the other route. Working really hard but then providing the entertainment for the fans.”

MK: You come here, to New England in 2011. What’s that conversation like with Bill Belichick and about the Patriot Way? Did you have to tone it down?

CJ: “He doesn’t have to tell you. When you walk in the building you can feel it. It’s weird, it’s a crazy thing it’s really hard to explain. It’s like somewhat of a — you know how you have unwritten rules like in baseball, or in hockey, there’s fighting, it just is what it is? When you get here you just know, you can feel it. People will say it, and have different explanations of what the Patriot Way is, but it’s just how you conduct yourself and how things are done. When you’re here and watch them operate, the first day you know what time it is, and I understood that. I didn’t even have to change. I just understood that I had to get in line and carry myself in a certain way.”

MK: Ultimately, why didn’t it gel [in New England]? Was it the playbook? Why didn’t you have as much success here as you did in Cincy?

CJ: “I have no idea. The playbook had nothing to do with it. What people need to understand, I hate when they say ‘oh, the playbook’. Playbooks, from team to team, they don’t change. Nothing changes. Football is still football. There are only nine routes. The concepts, the schemes, are different, but the route tree doesn’t change. Just formations, and schemes and dressing it up to look different.

The verbiage is the only thing that’s different. The verbiage, that’s it. In order to do what I did in Cincinnati, I would have needed to have been here in New England [for the] offseason program, be able to go through all that. I got here late. The trade happened late, and I just didn’t get the time I needed to build chemistry with Brady. And trust. I just didn’t get a chance to build that.

And we had so many weapons. It’s like, even if I did come in in my prime it still wouldn’t have been the type of production it was in Cincinnati because the ball was spread around amongst everyone. Can you imagine the team? Welker, Gronk, Hernandez, Deion Branch, me, Edelman. That’s like a Madden ultimate team right there offensively.

It was fun, though. I enjoyed still. Even though it wasn’t as productive as I would have liked. Just being here, man that experience was unbelievable.”

MK: What’s your best Bill Belichick story?

The best one is not even behind the scenes it’s the one, where I’m in Cincinnati and I come here for a preseason game and he’s talking about, ‘Oh, I’m doubling you the entire game,’ and I’m like what are we talking about? It’s the preseason. Let me have a little fun, trying to get my game tempo and the rhythm of the game up underneath me.

It was hilarious. That’s one of the masterminds, he’s always been, at taking away a team’s best player whether it be preseason, or regular season, or playoffs. I love Bill. I think I’m one of the few that’s made him smile, too.”

MK: Best Tom Brady story?

CJ: “Just cool as hell, man. Cool as hell. Obviousy he had to conduct and carry himself in a certain way. I think the people of Boston were deprived of his personality and him being open and being himself. I think when he got to Tampa, you saw a more looser, relaxed Tom. Very funny on social media. That’s him. That’s always been there. I just don’t think that this was the place where he could carry himself in that manner.

That is one of the great things that I liked about him. When I met him here I’m like, ‘this is a completely different dude when the cameras aren’t rolling.’ That was dope and people need to see this side and they didn’t get to see it obviously because of the Patriot Way.”

MK: You’re here with Madden and EA Sports as a ratings adjuster. What are your thoughts of this current Patriots team? What are you looking for?

CJ: “I will stick with the players I’ll be watching. Obviously Mac Jones. As Mac Jones goes the rest of the team goes. I would like to see Mac play consistent ball. If Mac can play consistent ball out there for you guys, I think the sky’s the limit for this team.

I would like to see JuJu get back to form. Get back to form when he was with the Steelers, and being that guy that Mac can lean onto.

And obviously, I want to see what Zeke does. I want to see Zeke, you know prove that he still has it and he can go out there and be consistent.”

MK: Is the end of Bill Belichick’s success as a head coach?

CJ: “He can coach in this league. He’s probably the greatest coach of all time. As a matter of fact, he is the greatest coach of all time. It’s what it is. He’s a brilliant mind, and at times, brilliant minds lose those that helped them become brilliant. But that doesn’t take or negate the fact that he is.

Brady was another brilliant mind and sometimes when you put two brilliant minds together it doesn’t go the way you want it to. I think it’s a testament to how important the quarterback position is in the NFL. No matter how great of a coach you are, sometimes you need someone just as great as you to get you where you want to go.”

Make sure to follow Mike on Twitter @mikekadlick, and follow @WEEI for the latest up-to-date Patriots and Boston sports news!

Featured Image Photo Credit: Jim Rogash, Getty Images