While Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and at least one fellow NFL player think wide receiver Chad Ochocinco's tryout this week with Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer is a mere publicity stunt, I find myself rooting for him to make it, at least as a practice player.
According to ESPN.com, the six-time Pro Bowler has been invited to play in Sporting Kansas City's reserve game on Monday against a local minor league team.
Ochocinco's tryout began Wednesday, when he was reportedly nervous, winded and rusty, not having played the sport since the 10th grade.
Earlier this week, Lewis said in reference to Ochocinco's return to the sport he first loved, "What has he ever done that he's completed? What circle has he ever connected in any way?" On Twitter, Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley called Ochocinco a ''clown.''
I don't see any difference in this than in Ochocinco's turn on ''Dancing With the Stars.'' I don't hear anyone criticizing Steelers receiver Hines Ward for participating on ''Dancing'' this season, making his debut Monday night.
It certainly seems that working out with Sporting Kansas City during the NFL lockout would be more productive than catching passes at some high school field, especially when the passes presumably won't be thrown by disgrunted Bengals QB Carson Palmer. If Ochocinco can hang on for a while in Kansas City and voters keep Ward dancing for a few weeks, the two might be among the fittest players when football returns.
A story on ESPN.com by its soccer writer Leander Schaerlaekens quoted former University of Akron soccer star Teal Bunbury on Ochocinco's experiment.
"We went to dinner when he first got here and he told me straight up that he's dead serious and really wants this," Bunbury told Schaerlaekens. "He doesn't want to waste anybody's time."
Of Ochocinco's improvement in Thursday's practice, Bunbury told ESPN.com, "I don't think the players were expecting anything big from him, but he's really showed himself. From yesterday to today he's really improved. Today his touch was a lot better, his movement was a lot better, he's understanding the game a bit more. He's really getting adjusted."
Other thoughts on this week's sports headlines: