Bienvenidos a Emerson College, #ProfOchoCinco?

New England Patriots wide reciever, Twitter connoisseur expresses interest in visit to Emerson class

by Chris Eyer / Beacon Staff • December 1, 2011

He put on a sombrero and poncho after scoring a touchdown in a football game. He rocked golden grills and a blonde fauxhawk, and he legally changed his name. He danced with the stars and has drawn the ire of many a critic. Now, New England Patriots’ wide receiver Chad Ochocinco might be bringing his antics to Emerson.

Professor David Gerzof Richard’s Social Media and Marketing class has attempted to bring the prolific wide receiver to Emerson to talk about his use of Twitter.

Ochocinco’s original name was Chad Johnson before he had it legally changed to match his jersey number, 85. Before signing with the Patriots this season, he played for the Cincinnati Bengals, recording 751 receptions, 66 for touchdowns. In his time with the Bengals, he was also known for his outlandish touchdown celebrations, as well as his Twitter presence. 

Gerzof said the class decided to focus on Ochocinco because of the player’s enormous social media presence.

“Last semester the project was to reach out to Shaq, who is very active on Twitter,” the professor said in a phone interview. “[Ochocinco] uses Twitter in a unique way. He’s not self-promotional. He talks smack with fans, talking smack with other players. He creates more awareness for his out-there persona.” 

Student Kendal Peiguss said even those who don’t follow football can benefit from the exercise, as Ochocinco’s off-field presence has transcended his sport.

“He’s really created a brand for himself,” the senior marketing communication major said in a phone interview. “He’s so much more than a football player. He was on dancing with the stars; he has his own merchandise.”

Ochocinco once tweeted during a preseason game while playing for the Cincinnati Bengals, causing the NFL to adopt a new policy forbidding in-game tweets. His handle, @OchoCinco is pushing 3 million followers.

Gerzof Richard and his class created the Twitter hashtag #ProfOchoCinco and tweeted at him.

“Imagine 10 years ago, trying to get in touch with your favorite athlete,” Gerzof Richard said in a phone interview. “You might be able to see them if you’re a sick kid in the hospital, or you paid a lot of money, or camped outside for hours after a game. It’s a great way to demonstrate how social media breaks down barriers, and it’s something that the students are really excited about.”

It took approximately a week, but Ochocinco, who receives a barrage of tweets every minute, responded to the class through a tweet at Gerzof Richard.

“@davidgerzof David I just saw ur message?I’m not sure if I’m allowed to do so but I’d be honored to share my ideas n thoughts with ur class [sic],” Ochocinco tweeted. Though the 138 character message was aimed at the professor, Gerzof Richard said it could have been any of the students, and that the idea was a collaborative effort.

Peiguss said she tweeted at Ochocinco’s fiancée, Evelyn Lozada, and received a response. She said Lozada tweeted to her about the cold weather in Boston. Peiguss, who is the captain of Emerson’s softball team, said it can be important for student athletes to have a strong grasp of social media.

“You don’t just represent you. I’m captain of the softball team so I am tied to this organization and this school,” she said. “You have to be conscious from a personal perspective, but also because I am connected to this reputable Emerson brand, and it’s the same with Ochocinco [and the Patriots].”

The discussion was renewed when Gerzof mentioned his students’ endeavor in a Nov. 18 interview regarding social media and football on Fox 25 News local news. 

On the same day, Ochocinco then tweeted, “David I haven’t forgot, if I can’t make it to #ESM I’ll substitute it with a field trip style dinner with the entire class.” 

As of print time, no specific date had been chosen for a meeting between Ochocinco and the class. The Patriots declined to comment. Ochocinco’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, could not be reached for immediate comment. 

The Social Media and Marketing class meets only once a week on Thursday nights, and with only two classes remaining, Gerzof Richard said the latter option is the most likely. If Ochocinco does take the class out to dinner, the professor mentioned the All-Star Sandwich Bar in Cambridge.

“They serve phenomenal sandwiches,” Gerzof Richard said. “It’s the right size: Large enough to accommodate the entire class, and the name of the place is so perfect for a guy like Ochocinco.”