Before the small-but-vocal faction of Chad apologists left among Bengals Nation gets worked up by the title, this is not a ‘bash on Chad’ post. Though I was not sad to see him traded, I like Chad. I defended him to the hilt for years. History will remember him as a colossal personality and a very good wide receiver.
As of right now, though, I stop short of calling him great. He is near the threshold, but not over it. A few productive years on another team might change that. But for one simple reason, barring injury of course, A.J. will clear the hurdle that Chad has not yet.
Yes, I know Chad’s numbers. He is currently #26 on the all time receiving yards list. He had a fantastic run from 2002-2007, and I allow for the possibility that he could have another year like that again. It might not be a strong possibility, but it could happen.
Chad was on the trajectory to greatness until his “Trade Me” media tour following the 2007 season. In 2008 we learned that the fun-loving freelancer couldn’t freelance if he wasn’t having fun. He had the skills, he had the work ethic, but he didn’t have the discipline. Here are his own words from a post on PFT.com admitting it.
“This is one of the first times I’ve been about doing exactly what everyone told me to do. It wasn’t about the numbers. It wasn’t about money. It wasn’t about me.”
That is what has separated him from true greatness. For years he was a little bit more concerned about himself than about being on the game plan. Thus the stare-downs between him and Palmer. And the frustration of many Bengals fans.
By contrast, even though he has only one season under his belt, I have no qualms in declaring that A.J. Green will surpass Chad because he does not struggle with his own sense of self. As evidence, I submit this quote from his head coach at Georgia, Mark Richt.
“Everybody knew he was an extremely talented guy and he could’ve shown up and said ‘here I am, look at me,'” Richt said. “Instead, he came in with a humble attitude knowing that he needed to learn.”
Humility will take A.J. where Chad has yet to go.