Chad Johnson’s NFL career was a wild ride, and during it, he did something few, if any, other NFL players did. He changed his name.
Yes, before the 2008 season and officially for the 2009 season, Chad Johnson became known as “Chad Ochocinco”. The move was surprising, given that his nickname of Ochocinco was just a nickname before his move, and completely surprising considering the antics that the fun-loving, pot-loving Johnson used to engage in during his NFL days.
But then in 2012, after a few years as Ochocinco, Johnson changed his last name again and is again known as “Chad Johnson.” This time, however, he kept Ochocinco as his middle name.
Before Chad Johnson’s fight against Brian Maxwell, many will ask questions about what led Johnson to change his name twice. Sporting News has you covered with the answers Johnson has given on the subject over the past 15 years.
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Why did Chad Johnson change his name to Chad Ochocinco?
Chad Johnson became Chad Ochocinco because of his No. 85 jersey. During Hispanic Heritage Month in 2006, he announced that he wanted to change his birth name to Ochocinco to honor that number (although it should be noted that “eighty-five “is 85 in Spanish;” ocho “is eight and” cinco “is five).
This happened after he had worn a Velcro plaque on his jersey that read “Ochocinco” before a game, only for Carson Palmer to rip it off and the NFL fined him $ 5,000.
While few took Johnson seriously, he eventually changed his name to Ochocinco in 2008. However, he did not elaborate on why he made the decision at the time.
“It’s something I don’t think anyone has done before,” Johnson said, according to ESPN. “Have I ever had a reason why I do what I do? I’m having fun.”
Although Ochocinco became Johnson’s official name in 2008, he waited until 2009 to put it on the back of his jersey. Had he not done that, he would have had to buy Johnson’s remaining inventory of jerseys in Reebok’s stock, similar to NFL players wanting to make a number change before the 2021 NFL season.
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How did Chad Ochocinco change his name back to Chad Johnson?
Just a few years after officially changing his last name to Ochocinco, Chad decided to change his last name back to Johnson.
What was the reason for that? Easy. It had a lot to do with Johnson’s marriage to reality TV star Evelyn Lozada.
“The couple preferred that Evelyn’s last name be a real name and not the funny character from ‘Ochocinco’ that we have come to love,” said a statement about the change. NFL.com.
And Johnson confirmed that was the reason in an interview with ESPN in 2012.
“I’m refocused and locked in. It’s time to get back to the old me,” Johnson said. “I’m only doing it for marriage. It has nothing to do with football. Ochocinco is still in me. It’s just my middle name.”
As a result, Johnson’s original name returned to his jersey.
However, her marriage to Lozada did not last. Johnson was arrested on domestic assault charges just over a month after getting married. Lozada filed for a divorce, which was granted three months after her wedding day.
Still, Johnson decided to keep his last name from then on. So, almost 10 years later, he’s still Chad Johnson.