The NFL career of Chad Johnson was a wild ride, and during it, he did something that few, if any, other NFL players did. He changed his name.
Yes, ahead of the 2008 season and officially for the 2009 season, Chad Johnson became known as “Chad Ochocinco.” The move was both surprising, given that his Ochocinco moniker was just a nickname before his move, and completely unsurprising when considering the antics that the fun-loving, pot-stirring Johnson used to participate in during his NFL days.
But then, back in 2012, after a handful of years as Ochocinco, Johnson changed his last name again and is again known as “Chad Johnson.” This time, however, he kept Ochocinco around as a middle name.
Ahead of Chad Johnson’s fight against Brian Maxwell, many will be asking questions about what led Johnson to change his name twice. Sporting News has you covered with the answers that Johnson has given about the topic over the past 15 years.
Why did Chad Johnson change his name to Chad Ochocinco?
Chad Johnson became Chad Ochocinco because of his jersey No. 85. During Hispanic Heritage Month in 2006, he announced that he wanted to change his birth name to Ochocinco to honor that number (though it should be noted that “ochenta y cinco” is Spanish for 85; “ocho” is eight and “cinco” is five).
This came after he had worn a velcro nameplate over his jersey that read “Ochocinco” before a game, only to have Carson Palmer rip it off and get fined $5,000 by the NFL.
While few took Johnson seriously, he did ultimately change his name to Ochocinco in 2008. However, he didn’t elaborate much on why he made the decision at the time.
“It’s something I don’t think anyone has ever done before,” Johnson said, per ESPN. “Have I ever had a reason for why I do what I do? I’m having fun.”
Though Ochocinco became Johnson’s official name in 2008, he waited until 2009 to put it on the back of his jersey. If he hadn’t done that, he would’ve had to buy the remaining inventory of Johnson jerseys in Reebok’s stock, in a similar fashion to NFL players wanting to make a number change before the 2021 NFL season.
What 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 reasoning for that? Simple. It had everything to do with Johnson’s marriage to reality TV star Evelyn Lozada.
“The couple preferred Evelyn’s last name to be a real name and not the fun ‘Ochocinco’ character we have come to love,” said a statement about the change, per NFL.com.
And Johnson confirmed that was the motive in an interview with ESPN back in 2012.
“I’m refocused and locked in. Time to get back to the old me,” Johnson said. “I’m just doing it for the 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, his marriage to Lozada didn’t last. Johnson was arrested on domestic battery charges just over a month after they were wed. Lozada filed for a divorce that was granted three months after their wedding day.
Still, Johnson decided to keep his last name from that moment on. So, nearly 10 years later, he remains Chad Johnson.
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