My advice for Ochocinco: Focus on football

I’ve been a fan of Chad Ochocinco since he was a rookie in Cincinnati. I knew him when no one cared who he was. I knew him when he was an unpolished player who wanted to be great and worked his tail off. I watched this kid use tremendous work habits to become the polished player he is now.

Sure, all the banter with Ochocinco makes for great television. You can see it in the Total Access video. But my main concern is football, and that should be Ochocinco’s focus as well. He shouldn’t be focusing on me.

At some point, though, his focus has gone away from his work ethic and has been more on entertainment. I think what Ochocinco is seeing now, particularly in the last year and a half, is that when you focus more on entertainment and less on the game, your skills will diminish.

Lately, Ochocinco has become known more for drops, drama and distractions than anything else.

We know the film doesn’t lie. I go all the way back to the end of the 2006 season, and I can pinpoint a game against Champ Bailey and the Broncos when dropped balls helped keep that Bengals team from going to the playoffs. In the final weeks of that season, Ochocinco went six straight games without a touchdown. And you’re the go-to guy? You’re the Pro Bowler? You’re the No. 1 weapon for Carson Palmer? All the Bengals had to do was win one of the final three games that year to go to the playoffs. They lost all three.

I know for a fact that the team called him in at the end of that 2006 season and said that things had to change. Did things change in 2007? Not really. There was a span of eight weeks during the 2007 season with no touchdowns. That doesn’t sound like a No. 1 receiver to me.

My whole point is this: Ochocinco is spending more time working on river dances and things of that ilk and less time working on his craft — and it shows.

I just see more drama than I see production. It’s my job as an analyst to point these things out. I have film to support it. After that, it’s not personal. It’s just not. I’m trying to help.

I’m trying to help Ochocinco, the same way I tried to help him after he sent Pepto Bismol to the Cleveland Browns secondary. I told him he was going too far. I told him to make sure that when this is all said and done and your career is over, that you’re known more for being the great player that you are and not known as the one guy who used to do the dances. You don’t want to be known as the clown. You want to be known as one heck of a player. Let’s make sure that’s the reason that people know you.

Most importantly, don’t be disrespectful to your peers. At the end of the day, when your career is over, that’s all you have — the respect of the guys you played against.

My final piece of advice to Ochocinco is this: Make sure they’re laughing with you, and not laughing at you. I’ve told him that personally.

I’m a guy who has always rooted for Ochocinco. I’ve always tried to give him good advice. But now I see that it’s just all gone too far. I have the film to prove it. You’re doing your team, your quarterback and most importantly, yourself, a disservice.

I feel like this banter wouldn’t even exist if Ochocinco was performing at the level he used to. I would be praising him like I used to when he played well. Now I’m being critical. It doesn’t bother me. I don’t need to validate what I do; I’m always going to be critical. I’m asked to make a call about what I think about things. Sometimes those “things” are Ochocinco. I’ll try to be truthful and will always back up my opinion with facts. Just a like a good lawyer. I don’t say anything that I can’t support with film and the coaches I talk to — just the facts.

— Solomon Wilcots

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