Posted: 5:30 p.m.
We saw the Old Chad in a nostalgic media session Wednesday, where it was always all good. He dropped a few hints about a Sunday surprise, began to pester the opposing cornerbacks, and basically felt good about feeling good.
Whether it leads to the Improved Chad remains to be seen, but the Old Chad on Wednesday made no bones about repairing some of the fences that were damaged during a pout that consumed media and management that was bordering on two years.
How long had we not seen that Chad on Wednesday, which was his weekly entertainment day? Ah, Wednesdays. The day he guaranteed a win over the undefeated Chiefs, sent Pepto-Bismol to the Browns secondary, called out cornerbacks from Champ to chumps.
On this Wednesday he apologized to the NFL for what he'll do if he celebrates in Sunday's opener.
That last good Wednesday? Probably the one before the 38-13 loss to New England on Oct. 1, 2007.
That's about the time he stopped talking to the local guys. Especially his Own Boswell, Cincinnati Enquirer sports columnist Paul Daugherty. Daugherty, the man that wrote Chad: I Can't be Stopped, ripped The Ocho for an on-field scene with Carson Palmer following an interception and Ochocinco hadn't spoke to him.
He's been back with the local media since pretty much this spring. But not Daugherty.
Until this Wednesday.
"Hey, Paul. Hey, Doc. How you doing?" said The laughing Ocho as they ended up talking about the weather and Skip Bayless.
How new is the Old Ocho?
"Words can't describe how I feel about this season," The Ocho said. "Not just about myself, but my teammates, for us offensively, to get back where we left off the last three games of last season. I know it wasn't a beautiful season last season, but it will be better. It will be much better. It's going to be beautiful. I'm stuttering and I'm not one usually at a loss for words, so you know how I'm feeling."
He's still feeling for mischief. He's been off his Twitter account just long enough to make you think he's got something up his sleeve for Sunday's opener against the Broncos. Ah, it must be Wednesday.
There it was on the celebration question.
"You already know it. You know that's one of the things I do when I'm back. I have something, I keep you at the edge of your seat," he said. "NFL, I'd like to apologize to you early. I've read all the fine print on all the letters you've sent, but I've found loopholes. I've found loopholes; so again, I'll give you something to write about. I'll have the NFL sitting on the edge of their seat this weekend. I just want you to sit back and enjoy the show."
After the NFL unleashed its Game Day social networking policy last week that prohibits football personnel and representatives from using computers 90 minutes before the game and not until the media is finished in the locker room, The Ocho hinted he would give his 150,000 Twitter followers a signal after one of his big plays and they would then all "tweet" together.
"The Twitter world, they don't need a signal," Ochocinco said. "They'll know. It's the quiet before the storm. Don't worry about it, you'll know. Just watch."
He'll get the same question on Showtime's Inside the NFL Wednesday night.
"I'm not even worried about the middle ground. What I'm going to do is focus on the loopholes," he told the show. "There's loopholes in everything. Everything that is done. I'll do my research and see what those are and I am going to make it happen."
And he added, "After we're doing well, we will do well, we get in the playoffs, and we (we) visit Miami ... I'll be tweeting from the Super Bowl ... actually while I'm on the field."
His teammates love the fact that with the Wednesday shenanigans have also come that old-time focus, the one he used to haul in five straight Pro Bowls.
"He's come in so focused to be the best receiver in the league and to take over that role. When he has that focus and that determination, it's tough to not see him taking over the lead," said quarterback Carson Palmer at his own Wednesday media availability. "The way he works, he runs every single route. In my seven years, we've had a lot of receivers come in that are in good shape, but I've never seen a receiver be able to take every rep. He just doesn't get tired.
"He's like Bruce Bowen of the (NBA) Spurs. For whatever reason, the guy just doesn't get tired. He can run all day. And when he comes in with that focus and that determination to work that hard, his game consistently gets better each day. And just when you think he can't run a route any better, he goes back and looks at it on film and finds a way to sink his hips a little bit more or to get his head around out of the top of the break. So when he comes in with that right focus and that work ethic, he's got a good shot to take over that No. 1 spot."
Palmer had to laugh when asked if The Ocho plays like a 31-year-old receiver, or if he plays like he did when, as Palmer would say, he was in his mid-to-late 20s.
"That's a good question. Chad does not age. He acts like he's 19 and he plays like his body's 20," Palmer said. "He may be 31, but he doesn't look it at all. He doesn't act it, either. But the guy just doesn't get tired, he doesn't get hurt."
Palmer then rapped his knuckles on the podium.
But it was an old-fashioned Wednesday.
It was all good.
"I've said it many times. I let a lot of people down, this city, this organization, I let some of my teammates down with my performance last year and some of the things I did in the offseason last year was very distracting to us," The Ocho said. "I lost focus on what was important, some of the goals I've always set for myself to be the best year in and year out. Having a bad year last year is somewhat of a good thing, because now it gives me something to strive for."