Ochocinco maintains there's no problem

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Ochocinco maintains there's no problem

INDIANAPOLIS -- Chad Ochocinco arrived at Wednesday's media blitz 20 minutes late. A large crowd of reporters had already gathered around his table. They stepped over and on top of each other, jockeying for prime real estate around the fallen star's landing spot.
Ochocinco talked for every minute of the morning he'd missed.

Let me address this, the New England Patriots is an elite organization where everything is in house and always stays in house, its like Fort Knox," he explained. "There are no leaks, no sources, so claimed, going around the league. Theres no such thing. So, with the media, with the fans, with everyone else, is their public opinion on what they feel might be the problem. They dont know what goes on behind closed doors. Nobody does."

What people know is what they've seen this season: 15 catches for 276 yards and one touchdown. Considering his 2009 numbers -- 72 catches, 1,047 yards, 9 touchdowns -- the interpretation can only be negative. Something is off.

No, theres no problem understanding the Pats' system, he maintained. Im extremely intelligent, extremely intelligent. Football sense, life, the way I carry myself, the things I do, we can all see I have sense, Im smart. Its just that it didnt play out the way it was supposed to play out.

One can assume a disconnect between Ochocinco and Tom Brady. Not that Brady would ever hint at any disfunction. The quarterback has only been complimentary, tossing out bouquets like "work ethic" whenever Ochocinco's game-day impotence is raised. The pair's lack of on-field chemistry speaks louder than either of them, anyway.

No amount of adorable analogies can soften that reality.

Were dating," Ochocinco said of his quarterback. "First year of a marriage is always rough, always rough. Ive always had the chip on my shoulder, thats my style, its the way I am. If I dont have the chip, Im going to create it by saying something to someone who had to deal with me that week. Im just going to be quiet.

"I can still have fun. I sort of have to feel my way through it first. This seasons been, its more of a feel-my-way-through-it. Its a learning process. You just cant come into something new and just bust the door down and say, Hey, Im here.

Maybe not. But you could say he never even tip-toed over the Patriots threshold.
Yet Ochocinco is in Indy, and from the sounds of it, he's reconciled the question of entitlement by focusing on the bigger picture.

This playoff run, this Super Bowl is very meaningful. Many would say it didnt go the way I would like it, not up to my expectations. Everybody can see that, but I dont think this season negates a career of what I consider greatness, worth of fun. To get to this point quietly, most people call it bittersweet, but its a blessing. People will play this game for years, for years and many names, many greats without having a chance to sniff the Super Bowl.

"To be able to be here, regardless of how this season went is a blessing, period. Especially where Ive come from, what Ive been through. To get to this, not just this stage, but the NFL in general. Im happy, it could be my last one. Theres no reason to hang my head, theres no reason to be upset. It is what it is and Im still smiling. Ive been smiling all year.

You can't say Ochocinco's smile won't widen if New England wins a ring. No matter how many catches he doesn't have.

Friday, Feb. 24: 'Slap Shot' turns 40

Friday, Feb. 24: 'Slap Shot' turns 40

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while always holding a special place in my heart for Dickie Dunn as my favorite "Slap Shot" character. If Dickie Dunn wrote it, then it must be true.

*The ESPN hockey crew puts together some of their best scenes and favorite lines from "Slap Shot" as the movie hits 40 years old. I was first introduced to Slap Shot in my high school years and I liked it for the Hanson Brothers as much as for anything else, but that is a movie that just gets better and better every time I watch it. And I’ve watched it dozens and dozens of times. God bless Paul Newman for agreeing to lend his Hollywood star power to such a crazy, hilarious and raucous love letter to hockey.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Brian Wilde is recognizing the limitations of the Canadiens even under new coach Claude Julien.

*Bryan Bickell is stepping even closer to a return to the Carolina Hurricanes as he battles through his MS diagnosis.

*Kevin Shattenkirk apparently turned down a sign-and-trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season, and also turned down a chance to get dealt to the Edmonton Oilers last summer as well. I think the Blues D-man has a short list of teams he wants to sign with as a free agent, and neither one of those teams is on the list.

*Darren Dreger weighs in on Shattenkirk as well, and the price tag of a top prospect, first-round pick and NHL player for the puck-moving rental D-man seems very excessive.

*Things are coming to a head with Evander Kane and the Buffalo Sabres as he takes his play to a high level in Buff over the last few months.

*Interesting piece on Ed Snider’s daughter becoming an advocate for medicinal marijuana after his father’s health battles.

*For something completely different: Looks like a new season of "The Voice" coming our way.


 

'Why would the girls be treated any differently than the boys?'

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'Why would the girls be treated any differently than the boys?'

I grew up playing sports. For the most part I played soccer, but I also ran cross-country and track, I skied, snowboarded, and, at one point, I tried gymnastics. (It wasn't pretty.) My two younger sisters did the same. Our parents ran themselves ragged driving us to practices and tournaments, arranging carpools and fundraisers.

It never crossed our minds that we were girls playing sports. It's just what we did. And we loved it!

I didn't realize how lucky I was until visiting my grandparents in rural Ohio one summer. I found an old photo of their high school graduating class. I asked my grandmother what sports she played in school and I'll never forget her answer: "Oh, there were no sports for girls back then. We could cheer for the boys basketball team, but that was it."

I was shocked. I thought that was ridiculous. Why would the girls be treated any differently than the boys? I couldn't comprehend it.

Looking back, I'm so thankful I grew up in a time and environment where that wasn't the case. I can't imagine my life without sports. Not only because it's what I do for a living, but because playing sports throughout my childhood is a big part of what made me the person I am today.

Sports taught me the value of hard work. Being part of a team, I learned how to communicate and work with people to accomplish a common goal . . . and discovered just how gratifying the process can be. I became a teammate and leader who earned respect and empowered others. I made lasting friendships while stuffed like a sardine in a travel van singing Ace of Base at the top of my lungs. I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything. And I certainly wouldn't be in the position I'm in without them.

Don't get me wrong; it hasn't all been positive. Now that I'm a woman working in sports, I've had other kinds of eye-opening moments. During an interview for my first on-air job I was asked, in so many words, if this is really a career for me or if I had other plans after I found a husband. Once I did land a job, I covered many college football games by myself. There was one small school in particular whose players relentlessly catcalled me on the sidelines. I won't repeat the foul things they said, but I can tell you I went home feeling very dirty (and it wasn't because I  was pouring sweat after lugging a camera that weighed half as much as I did from end zone to end zone in the middle of an Alabama summer). Even now, every so often, social media has a special way of reminding me how some people still view women in sports. Surprise -- it's not good.

But if that's the worst I have to go through, I know I can't complain. My only focus is doing my job to the very best of my abilities and working as hard as I possibly can to continue to grow and get better. We've come a long way. I'm so grateful for those who blazed the trail and made it possible for me to do what I do. And, thanks to my grandmother, I will never take my opportunities for granted. My hope is that when my daughter grows up, she will be just as surprised and appalled by some of my bad experiences as I was talking to my grandmother that day.