INDIANAPOLIS -- He created his own network, changed his surname and spent last year’s Super Bowl Media Day playing the role of reporter.
But when Chad Ochocinco got his chance to finally bask in the NFL’s biggest spotlight on Tuesday, the Patriots wide receiver was noticeably subdued.
Ochocinco slinked into the morning media session a few minutes late and quietly settled into some open space on the field between podiums set up for Aaron Hernandez and Matthew Slater. Although some Patriots players at podiums were greeted by only a small handful of media members, Ochocinco quickly was joined by a crowd of about two dozen reporters, and the throng grew to twice that size by the end of the session.
“I tried staying away from it all year,” said Ochocinco, who didn’t address the media en masse all season, only doing the occasional one-on-one. “I haven’t had much to say. I let the media do all the talking.”
Later he added, “I would have so much more to say if ...” as his voice trailed off and he didn’t complete his thought.
Surely, Ochocinco would have been more loquacious if he had caught more than 15 passes for 276 yards in his 15 regular-season games with New England. Or perhaps if he had made any receptions during the Pats’ postseason run to Super Bowl XLVI.
Asked several times if he was disappointed to finally reach his first Super Bowl in a season in which his production paled in comparison to his Pro Bowl numbers during his 10 seasons in Cincinnati, Ochocinco repeatedly refused to take the bait.
“If I had 100 catches and 1,000 yards, I’d probably be home in January,” he said, speaking throughout the session in a hushed tone that caused reporters to lean in closely.
“After a 10-year span, I finally had a year where it didn’t go well.”
Later he added, “I did everything I was supposed to do. I bought in. ... But I didn’t write the script.”
When asked if he’d be disappointed if he doesn’t play a role in Sunday’s game, Ochocinco pursed his lips and just shook his head.
Later he said his only goal for Sunday is “just to have fun. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
With the status of tight end Rob Gronkowski in question because of an ankle injury, the Patriots might call on Ochocinco to play a bigger role against the Giants. He did not catch a pass during the teams’ regular-season meeting Nov. 6.
When asked if he expected to be a part of the game plan, Ochocinco replied, “I don’t know. I haven’t seen the script.”
Ochocinco described the season several times as “a learning experience” and said it wasn’t difficult to rein in the boisterous personality that made him a reality-TV personality during his days with the Bengals.
“It was a nice test. If I had failed that test, I’d probably be home,” he said.
So what exactly did he learn during his first season in Foxborough?
Ochocinco offer a succinct answer: “That I can actually shut the f--- up.”