Was Chad Johnson’s butt slap a sign of respect?

Chad Johnson is behind bars right now, and will be for the next four weeks unless his attorney, Adam Swickle, can convince an overreacting, grouchy judge to reconsider her decision to send Johnson away after throwing out Johnson's plea deal on Monday. These things are prone to happen when you slap your lawyer's butt, bringing an entire courtroom to laughter.

But in Swickle's attempt to get that decision overturned, he's chalking up Johnson's world-famous butt slap as a sign of respect, rather than the opposite.

From TMZ

In the legal docs, Chad's lawyer says "Mr. Johnson has been a professional football player in the National Football League for eleven (11) years and patting another individual on the backside is viewed as a sign of respect and gratitude."

Swickle also noted that Chad was goaded into finding some form of compliment by the judge herself, who told him to thank his lawyer.

As for the judge's outrage that people in the court were laughing at the ass tap … Swickle says, "This is not Mr. Johnson's fault and he should not be punished for the actions of third parties."

Swickle is bang on. First of all, congratulating peers with taps on the behind is part of the sports culture in this country. Maybe Broward Circuit Court Judge Kathleen McHugh doesn't realize that, but that's why our court system has appeals processes and why judges have the ability to reconsider rash decisions. 

Further, the actual punishment certainly doesn't appear to fit the crime. From Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, who was a lawyer in a previous life:

I’ve been in court enough times (not as the defendant . . . yet) to know that judges can flash anger suddenly and unpredictably.  Usually, they get over it — and then they often feel bad about it.

In this case, the judge could wake up this morning and realize that 30 days in jail is too harsh of a punishment for what Johnson did.  The message has been sent, Johnson has spent the night behind bars, and now he should be released.

If the wide receiver formerly known as Ocho Cinco really does end up spending 30 days in jail, the Broward County judicial system needs to reconsider who it is placing behind these benches. 


About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com (covering Super Bowls XLIV, XLV and XLVI), a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Bloguin, but his day gig has him covering all things NFC East for Bleacher Report.