Chad Ochocinco warns NFL commish
In the wake of Junior Seau's apparent suicide, the debate over football safety has reached a fever pitch.
New England Patriots wideout Chad Ochocinco joined the fray Friday, pledging his support to Roger Goodell in an open letter posted on his website but cautioning that "mounting evidence being revealed publicly" could soon show its true face.
Ochocinco's Letter To Goodell
Chad Ochocinco wrote a letter to Roger Goodell, supporting the embattled commissioner. Read the full transcript here. Letter
"I know it has been a rough week, so I wanted to reach out. Players dying, players suing and on top of that my peers are just going off on you in the media," Ochocinco wrote in the letter posted on OCNNReport.com and addressed to the NFL's commissioner. "It does not help that ESPN has all of a sudden become Medical TV with damn near every brain expert on the planet. This has got to be the worst week ever. Since no one is showing any support, I figured I would be the first."
Goodell and the league's handling of concussions have come under fire in recent years, as the NFL has attempted to get a stronger hold on player safety by adopting stronger concussion testing policies and issuing hefty fines for hits involving the head.
Thousands of former NFL players also have sued the league over what they claim was willful ignorance of the dangers of head injuries. The safety debate reached a crescendo after Seau shot himself in the chest May 2 at his home in Oceanside, Calif.
Ochocinco, who affectionately refers to Goodell as "Dad" in the past and in Friday's letter, said he believes the league's own public relations arm is hurting the NFL's efforts.
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"Y'all do a darn near perfect job at portraying this game as one played by heroes," Ochocinco wrote. "But let's be real dad. This is a nasty, dirty and violent game with consequences. Sign up or go get a regular job. Watch it or turn off the TV and go fishing with your kids. It is really that simple.
"I know there are probably legal and financial implications that prevent this blunt depiction, but (I) am not sure if you have a choice," he continued in his letter. "If you don't say it now, the mounting evidence being revealed publicly will say it for you very soon."
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello thanked Ochocinco for his letter on Twitter on Monday.
"@ochocinco Dad says hi and thanks for your insight. And don't forget to vote for Donald Driver," Aiello wrote, also referring to Driver's time on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars."
Ochocinco, who two years ago attended Goodell's Super Bowl news conference as a reporter and asked a question, told Goodell in the letter that "if anyone can lead us out of this mess, it will be you."
He finished by writing that he is planning to have a rebound season after totaling just 15 receptions with the Patriots in 2011, which will include a lot of end-zone celebrations.
"Can my fine money go to supporting ex-players suffering?" Ochocinco asked, before signing the letter "Sincerely, Chad."
Information from ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss and The Associated Press contributed to this report.