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Butt Slap Lands Ex-NFL Star Chad Johnson In Jail

Former Miami Dolphins receiver Chad Johnson.
J. Meric
Getty Images
Former Miami Dolphins receiver Chad Johnson.

Chad Johnson — the NFL star formerly known as Chad Ochocinco for his jersey number — was minutes from having part of his life back on track. Johnson, who had pleaded no contest to head-butting his ex-wife, was about to seal a plea-deal that called for community service and counseling instead of jail time, when he did something that made the entire court room erupt in laughter.

The AP reports:

"It was all set until Johnson, when asked by [Broward County Circuit Judge Kathleen McHugh] if he was satisfied with his lawyer Adam Swickle, gave the attorney a light swat on the rear — as football players routinely do to each other on the field. The courtroom erupted in laughter and at that McHugh said she wouldn't accept the deal.

"'I don't know that you're taking this whole thing seriously. I just saw you slap your attorney on the backside. Is there something funny about this?' McHugh said, slapping the plea deal document down on her desk. 'The whole courtroom was laughing. I'm not going to accept these plea negotiations. This isn't a joke.'"

Johnson tried to apologize but McHugh sent him to jail for 30 days.

On ESPN, Stephen A. Smith went on a tirade about Johnson. The subtext is that Johnson lost a promising NFL career because of dumb decisions. Finally, Smith asked: "What is wrong with him?", by the way, posted a video of Johnson being cut from the Miami Dolphins following his domestic dispute. It's a pretty stunning and intimate piece of documentary filmmaking that we had missed when it was first released.

We'll leave you with a question: Was the butt slap disrespectful? Was the judge right in sending him off to jail?

Update at 2:57 p.m. ET. 'See You In 30':

Johnson sent out this tweet at about noon:

"Love me through the good and the bad because I'm gone love you regardless... See you in 30..."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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