You'd have a hard time finding anyone to dispute the notion that VH1 made the right decision–ethically and even from a business standpoint–in canceling Chad Johnson's new reality show, which was set to premiere on Sept. 3.
Johnson was arrested on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge over the weekend. The wide receiver formerly known as Ochocinco allegedly head-butted his new wife, Evelyn Lozada, who was also slated to co-star with Johnson in the show.
"Due to the unfortunate events over the weekend and the seriousness of the allegations, VH1 is pulling the series Ev and Ocho from its schedule and has no current plans of airing it," the network said in a statement Monday, via People.com.
Johnson and Lozada had been married less than six weeks prior to the incident, which has now cost the 34-year-old two separate jobs in as many days. He was released by the Miami Dolphins Sunday.
If indeed Johnson pulled a Zinedine Zidane in his driveway, the biggest shame will be that he'll have severely tarnished his image. We've always given him so much rope because, while he's eccentric and often disruptive, he's never been perceived as a bad guy. His value to the common football fan, now, lied in what he'd bring to HBO's Hard Knocks, which features the Dolphins this preseason and began airing last week.
I might not have watched Johnson's reality show, but that's just because reality shows are usually dull and tiresome. I'll say this, though: if I had to watch any reality show this fall, it would have been that one. That's because Johnson entertains me, which is something most athletes fail to do out of uniform. He's genuinely funny and his antics are quite original.
And that's the second, less significant reason why this alleged incident is such a shame. We've been robbed of the ability to view Johnson as a well-meaning rascal. If indeed he's eventually found guilty of such a crime, people will–and should–boycott Johnson in the media. Don't be surprised if VH1 severs ties permanently, regardless of the outcome. Sponsors don't want to attach themselves to those who have nasty arrests associated with them.
Again, the jury's not even out yet, but the court of public opinion will judge Johnson anyway. And a man who endeared himself to a whole new audience on ABC's Dancing With the Stars will likely lose a lot of those fans.
Chad Johnson might still have a promising media career ahead of him as individuals have come back from scandal many times before, but this incident has reduced the height of his ceiling.