I get why some people don't like him, but I came away from yesterday's game with a new appreciation for Chad Ochocinco. First of all, though he can obviously be a clown, he backed it up with a game that was not even remotely a joke.
In between plays, his humor came out, but it was a friendly exuberance. He smoothed over disputes between his teammates and Patriots players. He roughhoused with his younger opponents after physical plays, grabbing Brandon Meriweather by the helmet with gruff affection after Meriweather bulldozed him out of bounds late in the game, smiling at him through both of their facemasks. Also in the pro-Ochocinco column: this.
What was quite possibly Ochocinco's finest hour came in the moment not long after he'd caught a pass from Palmer to convert a third and 12 in the fourth quarter. He caught the pass along the sideline and then fell into the crowd of Patriots standing there, near midfield. After he got back up again, he spotted Belichick on his way back to the field.
And Ochocinco, taking full advantage of this golden opportunity, it seems, proceeded to give Bill Belichick a cheery slap on the hindquarters.
At least, that's what it really, really looked like. I'm fairly certain it was not a low-five, and something certainly seemed to get Belichick's attention as Ochocinco ran by, with his right hand lowered. Toward Belichick's lower body region. While Ochocinco was behind him.
I've watched and rewatched the video, from about 6:56 in the fourth quarter, where Ochocinco starts off headed for the field from the Patriots sideline, then spies Belichick, turns back, leans over...and then there's a jump-cut to the above view, with Belichick looking sharply over at Ochocinco, and turning to face him. Then a wider shot showing Belichick looking at Ochocinco with his brows somewhat furrowed. (Granted, this could have been his natural demeanor, as we know.)
CBS played the sideline encounter again a minute or so later, this time with slow-mo, though again not from an angle that showed actual hand-to-ass contact. Still, the fact that they called attention to it was suspicious. Phil Simms and Jim Nantz were coy about the subject, calling it "whatever that was," but they also had quite a giggle over it. As did I.