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Compelling ‘Hard Knocks’ episode documents Chad Johnson’s demise

Chad Johnson had a pretty good idea of his fate before he stepped foot in Joe Philbin’s office Sunday evening. Yet Johnson pleaded his case with his coach for one last chance nonetheless in a closed-door meeting the day after his image-shattering arrest.

It did little good. Philbin had his mind made up:

“Where we are as a program, and where you are, and where we’re headed, I don’t see the mesh right now,” Philbin told Johnson. “I wish it was different. I wish I could tell you something more encouraging. I think it’s just best for both of us that we part ways at this point in time.”

And with that, Johnson thanked Philbin for the opportunity, and walked out of the team’s training facility for good.

That rare, compelling look at the star receiver’s ultimate fall from grace was the climax of Tuesday’s Hard Knocks, a sensational hour of television that documented easily the most trying week yet of Philbin’s short time as a head coach.

Johnson was arrested Saturday night on domestic abuse charges. The now-familiar allegation: he head-butted wife Evelyn Lozada after she confronted him about a receipt for condoms she found in his car.

“I let you down a little bit,” Johnson told Philbin. “A lot. I understand what you’re doing. You got the message across clear the first day we met. I apologize for embarrassing you, and our organization, my teammates.”

The show capped a whirlwind 24 hours for Johnson, during which he broke his three-day silence and was served with divorce papers.

TMZ reported Tuesday afternoon that Lozada has already filed for divorce, seeking to dissolve a marriage that’s less than two months old.

“I would like to apologize to everyone for the recent events that have occurred,” Johnson wrote on his website. “I would like to wish Evelyn well and will never say anything bad about her because I truly love her to death.

“I will continue to be positive and train hard for another opportunity in the NFL,” he added. “To all the fans and supporters I have disappointed, you have my sincerest apologies. I will stay positive and get through this tough period in my life.”

Before news broke of their split, Lozada released a statement of her own “with great sadness and much trepidation.”

“I am deeply disappointed that Chad has failed to take responsibility for his actions and made false accusations against me. It is my sincere hope that he seeks the help he needs to overcome his troubles,” she said. “Domestic violence is not OK and hopefully my taking a stand will help encourage other women to break their silence as well. I’m grateful to my family, friends and fans for the outpouring of support during this difficult time.”

As for the rest of Tuesday’s show, it was an action-packed hour, shedding light on the following issues (along with many others):

• David Garrard’s knee injury: It happened not on the practice field, but at home. Garrard was in the backyard, watching his kids swim, when he turned suddenly and “felt something crunch in his left knee,” team trainer Kevin O’Neill told Philbin.

“Didn’t bang it on anything,” said Garrard, who needed surgery and is out two to four weeks. “Didn’t fall on it or anything. Maybe it’s just Father Time.”

• Philbin’s reaction to last week’s death of Garrett Reid (son of Eagles coach Andy Reid): A rare moment of unguarded emotion from Philbin, as he fought back tears when speaking about his own son’s accidental death last January.

“It always hits me at night,” Philbin says in a phone conversation. “It’s good and bad. It keeps it fresh. The good memories, and then there’s pain that’s associated with it. Lots of it, that’s for sure.

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