Chad Johnson’s career in the NFL has been a wild ride, and during it he did something few, if any, other NFL players have. He changed his name.
Yes, prior to the 2008 season and officially for the 2009 season, Chad Johnson became known as “Chad Ochocinco”. The move was both surprising, given that his nickname Ochocinco was just a nickname before his move, and quite surprising considering the antics Johnson used to have fun with and to stir the pot during his days in the NFL.
But then, in 2012, after a few years as Ochocinco, Johnson changed his last name again and is known again as “Chad Johnson”. This time, however, he kept Ochocinco as his middle name.
Ahead of Chad Johnson’s fight against Brian Maxwell, many will be wondering 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.
MORE: What’s the continuation of the Mayweather vs. Paul fight?
Why did Chad Johnson change his name to Chad Ochocinco?
Chad Johnson became Chad Ochocinco because of his # 85 jersey. During Hispanic Heritage Month in 2006, he announced that he wanted to change his birth name to Ochocinco to honor this number (although it should be noted that “ochenta y cinco” is Spanish for 85; “ocho” is eight and “cinco” is five).
This happened after he wore a Velcro nameplate on his jersey that read “Ochocinco” before a game, only for Carson Palmer to tear it off and be fined $ 5,000 by the NFL.
While few took Johnson seriously, he eventually changed his name to Ochocinco in 2008. However, he didn’t explain much about why he made the decision at the time.
“It’s something that 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?
Although 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, he should have bought the remaining Johnson jerseys stock from Reebok’s stock, much like NFL players wanting to change their numbers ahead of the 2021 NFL season.
MORE: Everything You Need To Know About The Mayweather vs. Paul Fight
What did Chad Ochocinco change his name to Chad Johnson?
Just a few years after officially changing his last name to Ochocinco, Chad decided to change his last name to Johnson.
What was the reasoning for this? 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 funny ‘Ochocinco’ character we love,” a statement said on the change, according to NFL.com.
And Johnson confirmed that was the motive in an interview with ESPN in 2012.
“I’m refocused and locked in. It’s time to go back to my old self,” Johnson said. “I’m doing it just for the wedding. 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 for domestic battery charges just over a month after their marriage. Lozada filed for divorce which was granted three months after their wedding day.
Still, Johnson decided to keep his last name from that point on. So, almost 10 years later, Chad Johnson remains.