Photo by Heather Middleton
By Doug Gorman
Going across the middle to catch passes on Sundays in the NFL is just like another routine day at the office for Cincinnati Bengals' wide receiver Chad Ochocinco.
It's what has made him a six-time All-Pro with 751 career receptions and 66 TDs.
On Thursday morning, the NFL superstar took his mind off the current NFL lockout by trying something with plenty of speed -- joining NASCAR veteran Jeff Burton in a ride-along at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The 150-mile-per-hour test ride was a new experience for Ochocinco, but not the first time he has tried something exciting outside his world of football.
Most recently, the Bengals' wide receiver climbed on the back of a bull to see what life is like for a professional bullrider.
He has tried out with a pro soccer team and even appeared on the hit show "Dancing with the Stars."
He says half jokingly next he wants to try his hand at wrestling an alligator.
The NFL wide receiver definitely enjoyed his first taste of NASCAR.
"There's that adrenaline rush," he said. "Then there is that feeling of not being in control since I wasn't driving myself. We are going high, then we are going low.
The man famous for donning No. 85 got his NASCAR education from one of the sports' leading ambassadors.
Burton, who drives for Richard Childress Racing, has 21 victories, 231 top 10 finishes and six poles in a career that began in 1994.
This week as the NASCAR circuit heads to the sports most famous track in Daytona, Burton is 24th in the points standings.
During the quick ride around AMS, Burton wasn't trying to scare his guest.
"You can't scare him," Burton said. "The man has ridden a bull. He runs routes across the middle of the field. He wants to wrestle an alligator.
How do you scare an athlete like that?"
Ochocinco says there's a huge difference between getting chased down by a linebacker in the NFL and racing around a NASCAR track.
"This is much different ," he said. "Here I'm out of my element, and anytime you are out of your element, it is going to be scary."
One thing is for sure, the NFL veteran came away with a new respect for what Burton and his fellow race car drivers do each and every Sunday.
"How the heck they do what they do is beyond me," he said. "I don't understand it."
One has to wonder why Ochocinco is such a thrill seeker.
"If you're not nervous, you're not living," he said. "I'm willing to try everything once."
He might have plenty of time to live out some more of his daredevilish feats.
Normally, NFL training camps would be starting in a couple of weeks, but to hear Ochocinco tell it, he may have plenty of time to explore his "new hobbies."
That's because the NFL veteran isn't too optimistic an agreement between the owners and players to end the lockout is within reach.
"I think it's coming back," he said. "I just don't think it is starting on time . No matter what you are reading. No way."