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Chad Johnson was convicted of domestic battery in 2000

Chad Johnson

In this Aug. 12, 2012 photo, Chad Johnson, center, leaves Broward County Jail in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Dolphins terminated the six-time Pro Bowl receiver’s contract about 24 hours after he was arrested in a domestic battery case involving his wife. Johnson was released from jail on $2,500 bond after his wife accused him of head-butting her during an argument in front of their home. (Photo by Jeff Daly/Invision/AP)


During his 12 years in the NFL, Chad Johnson has cultivated an image of a troublemaker, but a playful one -- a class clown, not a bully. So when Johnson was arrested over the weekend for domestic violence, it seemed out of character.

But it may have been less out of character than we realized: Johnson already has a domestic battery conviction on his record, as he was arrested for hitting his girlfriend in 2000 and later pleaded no contest, according to TMZ.

At the time of the previous domestic violence incident, Johnson was 22 years old and about to start his football career at Oregon State. He was able to work out a deal in which he avoided jail time but would have to spend 30 days cleaning up graffiti, along with serving three years of probation, getting counseling and staying 100 yards away from the victim. Johnson later had more time added to his community service requirements because he didn’t complete them in a timely manner, and he didn’t finish the graffiti cleanup or the counseling until 2002, when he was with the Bengals.

It’s surprising that the previous domestic violence conviction hasn’t been widely reported: With all the media attention surrounding Johnson through the years, both positive and negative, this incident has been almost totally overlooked. Johnson’s recent arrest puts that prior incident in a new light.

UPDATE 8:15 a.m. ET: A media source points out that Johnson acknowledged the 2000 incident in his 2006 book, Chad: I Can’t Be Stopped. So this really isn’t new. It’s just newly relevant.