Can Ochocinco bury his classic liberalism for the good of the team?

After thoroughly discussing both Rand’s interpretation of a classic liberal and Kemmis’ description of a civic republican, I, being a sports addict, quickly drew the comparison to what it means to be a “good teammate.” Every day in the sports world, we listen to analysts critique certain players for being selfish or stats-obsessed, while they should be focusing on just one thing: team success. This made me think: Can an athlete be both a classic liberal (stats-driven and selfish) and a civic republican (a good teammate)? Can you change your mindset after years of acting in a certain manner? To investigate this thought-provoking question, I thought it would be best to look at one player who is the perfect example: first year New England Patriot Chad Ochocinco.

Before delving into whether Ochocinco can bury his classic liberal mindset in relation to football and become the “typical” New England Patriot, it is important to make the direct distinction between a classic liberal and a civic republican. In Rand’s The Fountainhead, the author describes the character Roark as someone who focuses on the individual and is selfish. In the text, Roark states that “No man can live for another” (Rand, 408). In the game of football, the key to victory is making sacrifices for your teammates and doing anything that is necessary for the good of the team. Clearly, a classic liberal, in a football sense, would have trouble with this. This type of player cares only about the number of yards, catches, tackles, or any other type of individual stat he can accumulate.

Kemmis, on the other hand, describes a civic republican as someone who focuses on the community, cooperation, shared values, and the common good. This is evidenced in Kemmis’ Barn Raising through his descriptions of characters that “…could count on one another.” (Kemmis, 121) In relation to football, a civic republican is the definition of a good teammate.

Now that we can make the distinction between a classic liberal and a civic republican in relation to football, it’s time to address whether or not Chad Ochocinco can bury the classic liberal in him and discover his civic republicanism for the good of the team. For his entire career, Ochocinco has been an NFL star that cares about one thing: himself. Whether he’s complaining to his quarterback that he wants the ball more, bragging about his numbers and future hall of fame status, or celebrating his touchdowns in an over-the-top, excessive manner, Chad Ochocinco has never been shy about exhibiting his selfish (classic liberal) beliefs.

However, this season, Ochocinco joined the New England Patriots, the NFL’s model franchise that is led by the legendary Bill Belichick, a strict, no nonsense, team-first head coach. Ochocinco claimed that he plans to bury his typical on and off the field antics for the good of the team, but many critics and football analysts doubt that this is possible.

If we once again examine the classic liberal-civic republican relationship in an historical context, the revolutionary author Thomas Paine is the perfect example of someone who had both liberal and civic republican traits. Paine was in full support of innovation and change (liberal), but is historically known as a civic republican due to his focus on the community and shared values.

Therefore, I believe that, for now, we should trust Ochocinco and believe that he is capable of burying his inner classic liberalism and selfishness for the good of the team and discovering that he can still contribute to the New England Patriots. The first two games of the regular season support this belief, as he has only recorded 3 catches for 59 yards and no touchdowns, but has not complained once about playing time or number of targets. Teammates have raved about his football intelligence and team-first attitude, including star quarterback Tom Brady.

However, much of the season remains. There is plenty of time for Chad Ochocinco’s inner classic liberalism to creep up.



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6 Responses to Can Ochocinco bury his classic liberalism for the good of the team?

  1. miswain says:

    This post is a great modern-day pop culture application to what we have been talking about. If anybody knows enough about the last ten years or so of the NFL, you’d understand why this post reminds me of the discussion we had regarding setting. Before I ge to the NFL, here’s a refresher: Rand’s crowded, congested, high-tension metropolitan area may have been an important factor in allowing characters getting fed up with each other (leading to isolation/extreme individualism); as opposed to the peaceful, wide-open farm setting in the laid-back plains of Montana – a place where everybody is relaxed and thus more likely to lock arms to achieve the common good.

    Cincinnati is the metropolitan area, where off-the-field problems that we don’t care about has lead to a roller coaster ride that has consisted mostly of dips and depressions recently. With so many distractions, it’s easy to go off and do your own thing – in Ochocinco’s case, make a fool of himself.

    New England, like it or not, is different. Success is guaranteed, which means there’s no need for a distraction. More importantly, a roster full of top-notch Civic Republican players who play the game the way it should be (while keeping their collective act together) provide an unspoken-of deterrent to acting like a complete idiot.

    Is this going to work? Although I regularly say that I couldn’t care less about any NFL team that doesn’t wear Honolulu Blue, the original poster has raised a question that will be worth keeping an eye on for the rest of the fall.

  2. Courtney says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post! Also being a sport nut, I thought you did a great job of comparing these concepts of classic liberalism and civic republicanism to modern culture. I would even extend your argument further to say that the “classic liberal” characterizes many professional athletes today. I mean, come on, the NHL lockout, NFL lockout, and most recently the NBA lockout… These certainly weren’t about “team success.” Let’s get real, at the end of the day, these were all about money, money, money. I am not refuting your argument at all in that the Patriots are definitely one of the most civic republican teams in the league and that Ochocinco tops the charts as one of the most classic liberal players in the league. However, I would just simply add that Ochocinco certainly isn’t the only one guilty of selfishness, cockiness, and arrogance. If the players hadn’t negotiated what they wanted, I think it’s safe to say they wouldn’t have said, “Well, football season is coming, I’ll just sacrifice my salary and accept a lower offer so that the team can start playing again together.”

  3. jakmel says:

    Great post, I really enjoyed the sports reference. To answer your question i think Ochocinco will embrace the civic republican atmosphere of the patriots because either he will do that or probably not play. The Patriots system is so “team based” that it seems they can throw in any group of wideouts and still win. A good comparison to Ochocinco is Randy Moss, both are notoriously selfish, me-first players. Moss joined the Patriots after a few mediocre seasons and embraced the Patriots team first philosophy and the result was Moss as well the Patriots having one the greatest statistical seasons of all time.

    In general, I would consider myself more of a classical liberal but I definitely embrace the idea of civic republicanism when it comes to sports, especially football. Furthermore , there have been some classic teams in other sports, who did not have any “star” players and were still able to win championships. One team that comes to mind is 2004 Detriot Pistons who I believe exemplifies the idea of civic republicanism in sports. Although talent is extremely important, it is very rare, the one talented player can lead his team to a championship, the only two I think think of are Gretzky and MJ, but even they had great supporting casts.

    Overall even though it is still early in the season, I believe already Ochocinco has let go of a lot of the classic liberal in him and if he can find his game we should all except big things from him and the Patriots this season.

  4. emmasag says:

    Can Chad Ochocinco bury his classic liberal ways for the good of the team? This is quite an interesting comparison, that ties the concepts of NFL team building, with political theory concepts. This being said, the idea that Chad Ochocinco may have to abandon his classic liberal (individualistic mentality) ways for the good of the team seems unnecessary.

    Chad Ochocinco from the onset of his NFL career, has been a classic liberal, plain and simple, based on his overblown self perception, and unwavering belief in his athletic abilities. Classic liberalism advocates egotism and self reliance, as demonstrated by author Ayn Rand, who in “The Fountainhead”, argues “the first right, is the right of the ego”. Following this ideology, Ochocinco was very successful while in Cincinnati, appearing only to dwindle as his quarterback became plagued by injury, and declined.

    Conversely, the Patriots, in the Bill Belichick era, have appeared to be model civic republicans. How so? The Patriots’ sucess, is entirely a result of a system that relies upon the team operating as a cohesive unit, compromising to Belichick’s wishes; rather than relying on remarkable individual exploits. Ironically, this very system that demands civic republican virtue, is the product of Belichick’s militaristic style that is outwardly, liberal..but I digress.

    As Andrew notes, “the revolutionary author Thomas Paine is the perfect example of someone who had both liberal and civic republican traits”, which seems to explain why Ochocinco and the Patriots have joined forces, and why both parties can indeed maintain their ideologies while remaining successful.

    Ochocinco is by no means unique in his behavior, as countless superbowl winning teams have won with colorful characters on their roster, who greatly contributed to their teams victory (Lawrence Taylor and Deion Sanders to name a few). Chad Ochocinco and the Patriots are ideologically different, yes; however, they can come together for civic republican reasons. To say it more simply, Chad Ochocinco wants to win a Superbowl, and the Patriots have been looking to acquire another target for Tom Brady, to ensure that they get there (seeing that they haven’t won a Superbowl since 2004). For this reason, I think a more appropriate question might be, can Chad Ochocinco generate the numbers necessary, to justify the Patriots adding a player who clashes with their inherent ideology?

  5. wwwolves54 says:

    I also appreciate the football reference. It was a well placed analogy to display a topic that is central to this class. I agree that Ochocinco has been a very “classic liberal” player throughout his career I do believe he has made it clear that it is behind him. When he was traded to the Patriots he bought into the Patriot “way” which mirrors a civic republican ideology. This team first attitude has been a staple in New England and led them to a lot of success. After the first game of the year against the Dolphins he came under fire for buying into the civic republican spirit a bit too much. He tweeted: “Just waking up after a late arrival,I’ve never seen a machine operate like that n person,to see video game numbers put up n person was WOW.” in reference to his new teammate Tom Brady. In that game Ochocinco had just one catch for 14 yards. A former Patriot and current analyst attacked him for not being what Rand would call a “creator”. According to this analyst Ochocinco was taking too much of a back seat to his teammates. So with that said I do not believe that Ochocinco will regress into his more egocentric form. As an older player who wants to win he realizes that the way to do that in New England is to swallow your pride and to work as a group to get to their end goal, a Superbowl.
    I believe sports is a great analogy for these concepts because it shows that both ideologies have their merits. There have been numerous athletes in team settings that excelled in a “classic liberal” type way. It is currently being shown that Peyton Manning of the Colts is one such player. His team excelled because of his leadership. He was the creator. He did everything for that team and now without him they are severely hurting. On the other side of the coin is the success that the Buffalo Bills are currently showing. They are comprised of a group of no name players that have formed a cohesive team and are currently 3 – 0. These players have accepted their individual roles and like Kemmis’ Barn Raising they have all made individual sacrifices to better the group.
    Good Post.

  6. bjacobs25 says:

    This post does a great job applying the readings to modern day pop culture. Ochocinco is clearly trying to transition from a Rand to a Kemmis, a Classic Liberal to a Civic Republican (the key word being trying). What Ochocinco is doing, however, is not much different from what today’s politicians do: try to be something they are not to appease a constituency. We see this all of the time as primary election season transforms into a general election. Candidates who often start primary season on the outskirts of the political spectrum (pretty liberal or pretty conservative) usually become fairly moderate after they win their respective party’s primary. John Kerry caught a bit of flack for this in the 2004 general election, as did John McCain in 2008. While Ochocinco seems to be going out of his way to impress Coach Belichick, Kerry and McCain went out of their way as well to appeal to American moderates during general election season. I think it’s pretty clear what Ochocinco is doing here – setting himself up for a political career after he retires from the NFL. Let’s hope he’s not taking notes from Kerry and McCain.

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