In the recently released photos published Tuesday (pictured in gallery below), the same day Johnson was released from jail over a botched hearing in connection to the Aug. 11th assault, a disheveled Lozada is shown with a bloody three-inch gash in the middle of her forehead–the handywork of the former-NFL player’s anger.
Some accuse TMZ of purposefully publishing the photos on the same day of his release, arguing the entertainment site was profiting from Johnson’s misery and victimizing Lozada over a traumatizing event that she’d rather leave in her past.
I beg to differ.
The graphic photos should push Johnson to do something that he has yet to do with any degree of sincerity since he attacked her: man up to what he did and be a public advocate in the fight against domestic violence.
Since Johnson was arrested and pleaded no contest to assaulting Lozada last fall, Johnson has done everything but take ownership of his behavior. Instead, he has reflected on his actions with such smug, unfiltered arrogance that one has to wonder if those mandated anger management courses he was ordered to attend are getting through to him.
It is clear they are not.
As a reporter who covers domestic violence issues and has interviewed abused women as well as their abusers, I have a keen eye for men who admit to their abuse but refuse to seek redemption over it.
Chad Johnson is “Exhibit A.”
During an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take,” with Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless, and Cari Champion, Johnson did little to redeem himself over his violent behavior. Sure, he said he regretted hitting Lozada and that he lost his family, but he hasn’t said anything about the steps he is willing to take to earn the respect of his former wife or his family. In fact, in an exchange with Smith, he showed more remorse over being dropped by the Miami Dolphins than his assault on Lozada.
Johnson: “I still would be playing with the Dolphins today had I said, Baby, I’m sorry. There is no reason this should have happened.” (Note: This is typical abuser sweet talk)
Smith: Really? You think you would have still been playing for the Dolphins?
Johnson: You’re not listening. Stay with me, Stephen.
Smith: I am staying with you.
Johnson: If I nipped it in the bud and apologized instead of beating her, getting mad and allowed my anger to escalate to that point, there wouldn’t be an issue. That’s what I’m saying. You’re not staying with me, are you?
Me, me, me, me, me. It is classic Chad Johnson. It is all about him.
Watch Chad Johnson on ESPN’s “First Take” below:
Even after he violated his parole over the incident, Johnson still could not treat the matter with humility. Confident he would beat the case, Johnson showed up in court with a deal in place that would have gotten him no days in jail. But Johnson, not being cognizant of the sensitivities beyond his personal Chadzone, decided to pat his lawyer on the butt, evoking laughter from the court but outrage from the presiding — and may I add, female — judge. The playful gesture got him locked up. Most people felt the judge was grandstanding.
Want to Keep Up With NewsOne.com? LIKE Us On Facebook!
Again, I beg to differ.
I would argue that Johnson has been grandstanding his domestic violence charge with his ego for far too long and the judge decided to call him out for it. Good for her.
To prove my point that the former NFL star is self-absorbed, here is what Johnson tweeted after being given a 30-day jail sentence:
He ended up serving seven days. Let’s hope that his short jail stint taught him a tenth of what Michael Vick learned during his nearly two years behind bars.
Watch Michael Vick exude humility over his dog fighting past below:
Vick, at one point, was America’s most-vilified man because of his abuse of dogs in his robust multi-state dog fighting operation. While he started off lying about his actions after being caught, Vick quickly regrouped and voiced his heartfelt remorse for his actions before spending nearly two years in prison. He embraced the wise and well-respected counsel of Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy during his time behind bars. When he left prison, Vick’s words were measured and succinct. He left his boys in the hood and divorced himself from his former life and persona.
Vick’s interview with James Brown on “60 Minutes” was a classic example of what Johnson should be doing: fully manning up to his mistakes without getting irritated and using the time to earn the respect of his fans. Here is an excerpt of one notable exchange between Brown and Vick when discussing the dog fighting scandal:
Brown: Was there an adrenalin rush? Was it the sense of competition. What was it that gripped you about what you were engaged in with the dog fighting?
Vick: Regardless of what it was, it doesn’t even matter.
Brown: Do you know what it was?
Vick: I know why. I know why and regardless of what it was and why I was driven by what was going on, whether it was because of the competition or whatever it may have been, it was wrong.
Brown: Were any of those reasons, though? The competition? The adrenalin?
Brown: Do you understand why people were outraged?
Vick: I understand why. And Imma say it again: It sickens me to my stomach. The same feeling I’m feeling right now is what people was feeling.
Brown: The feeling you’re feeling right now is?
Vick: Disgust. Pure disgust.
Whenever Johnson is asked about his attack on his ex-wife, his tone should emulate the humility that Vick expresses whenever he is asked about dog fighting: that of pure disgust.
Vick realized that his path back to the gridiron depended more on his reinvention as a man than his improvement as a quarterback. Chad, on the other hand, does not feel he owes anyone anything other than his services as a wideout.
Notice the difference between the two players’ current predicaments: Vick is back in the league as a starting QB with a $100 million contract. Chad is still out of the league — and reportedly broke.
No one brings up Vick’s dog fighting past anymore.
Because he manned up to his mistakes, and without being defensive, freely describes how hard he has worked to earn the respect of his fans, and he is an avid anti-dog fighting advocate.
Johnson comes across as if he is not given enough respect and the only thing he is willing to advocate for is a shot in the league that no one wants to give him. He doesn’t understand that he can’t be the star he used to be on the football field until he becomes the man he needs to be to himself, his family, and his fans.
Recently, I interviewed a man and his wife in connection to a series of stories I am writing on domestic violence. The man, who will remain anonymous until the series is published this fall, told me that he hurt his wife’s leg so bad during an argument that her foot was hanging by the skin. Without batting an eye, he said, “I did that,” referring to his attack on his wife. “I have to live with it for the rest of my life.”
He and his wife chose to stay together, with the husband using his abusive past in interviews as an example to help other men learn to deal with their anger and rebuild their families.
It’s now Johnson’s turn.
With the release of the photos that show how badly Johnson hurt Lozada, he can finally man up and go down the road of redemption. But first, Johnson must claim responsibility for those photos and say, “I did that.”
Maybe his life will truly make a turn for the better then. And after exuding some character, perhaps some NFL team would feel OK signing Johnson to their roster or maybe a sports network would welcome him to their anchor desk.
But he has to man up to those photos first.