The player formerly known as Chad Ochocino is set to return to pro football, in Mexico for los Dinos de Saltillo de la LFA. Johnson, a fan favorite with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, played 11 seasons in the NFL and one in the CFL (he last played pro football in 2014 for the Montreal Alouettes). Known for his outlandish and somewhat questionable personality on and off the field, Johnson was one of the NFL’s most effective receivers of the decade (2001-2009). Now, Johnson is set to make his debut for los Dinos this Sunday, April 2 when the team takes on los Fundidores de Monterrey.
Johsnon’s move to la LFA appears to be the league’s greatest publicity move in its brief history. While the league has grown somewhat popular, a move by a (aging) former NFL star will only boost la LFA’s popularity, particularly in the United States and Mexico’s border-city markets, where American football has proved to be a staple. Sure, some people simply may not care and may think that Johnson is “washed up” has joined the league to earn more attention for himself. Regardless, this move by both parties–Johnson and la LFA–will generate significant buzz for the rest of the 2017 season and beyond, should Johnson decide to continue playing for los Dinos (it is unclear whether he will continue playing for the Dinos beyond this Sunday).
Though his intentions may seem different to certain fans (los Ochocinco haters), Johnson’s debut with los Dinos will signify another bridge between the United States and Mexico through the game of American football. As la LFA’s first former NFL star, Johnson could pave the path for former NFL players and younger NFL prospects to join the league, whose season begins in late winter and extends through the spring. Furthermore, Johnson, an avid social media user, will certainly document his experience online to his expansive, diverse fanbase.
I can only applaud la LFA for how it announced this move (spontaneous social media posts by both la LFA and los Dinos’ official social media accounts, followed by a press release and subsequent social posts). Also, its reception by Spanish-language media in the United States and Mexico has been mostly positive. I do not anticipate Johnson to make a major difference on the field, but his move to la LFA has already made waves off of it.