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Weighing Chad Johnson’s case for the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Is he a Hall of Famer?

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The Bengals only have one player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame – Anthony Munoz – but one of the more notable possibilities is a first-time nominee this year.

Chad Johnson was a divisive figure during his 10 years in Cincinnati, no doubt, but he was also a key part of the team’s first renaissance under Marvin Lewis (Andy Dalton and A.J. Green playing the most prominent roles in the second renaissance).

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Johnson (or as he preferred to be called at times, OchoCinco) brought a certain flair to the Queen City that was missing for much of the lost decade that was the 1990s. He definitely made the Bengals interesting, even in those years they were still not what could be described as “good.”

No matter what you thought of his onfield antics, though, Johnson was something else besides brash: Productive.

The Miami native was a six-time Pro Bowler (which used to mean a tad more than it does now when half the league ends up being named to the squad) and twice made the much more prestigious All-Pro first team.

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Johnson is the Bengals’ all-time leader in receptions (751), receiving yards (10,783) and receiving touchdowns (66).

He has four of the top five receiving seasons in franchise history, including No. 1 with 1,440 yards in 2007, and set the single-game receiving yards record with 260 against the Chargers in 2006.

But will that get him to Canton, where he famously predicted he would end up with a customized Hall of Fame jacket during a game?

Johnson led the AFC in receiving yards three times, including in 2006 when he also led the entire NFL.

For sure 10,000 career receiving yards are a lot, but not quite what they used to be.

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Johnson entered the season 33rd on the NFL career receiving list, surpassing such Hall of Famers as Lance Alworth, Shannon Sharpe and Raymond Berry but trailing contemporaries such as Hines Ward, Derrick Mason, Jimmy Smith and Torry Holt, not to mention superstars like Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Smith.

In all, 15 receivers who also played at least most of their career have more receiving yards than Johnson, including six who are still active.

The bar for getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame might not approach that of, say, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but it looks like it will be too high for Johnson.

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