Bobbing and weaving through the mind of Larry Johnson is not an easy or fun task. But one thing is pretty evident - LJ has a history of giving the media exactly what it wants - something to talk about.
Midway through the offseason, after going on 610 Sports Radio and spouting off about Kansas City being tired of him and not being a good fit, Johnson quieted down, probably under the advisory of his new agent, Peter Schaffer. Johnson was towing the company line, even after a demoralizing loss to the Eagles in Week 3.
“We’re keeping each other’s spirits up as far as just being around each other a lot more and doing activities outside this locker room, like as far as watching Monday Night Football and stuff like that,” he said. “We’re just all keeping focused, but at the same time we’re trying to pick each other up and keep moving.”
Did Johnson’s recent postgame Twitter comments sound like he was “picking” up his coach with the intent to “keep moving?”
What might make those comments even stranger is the fact that earlier this year Johnson favorably compared the new front office and coaching staff to the old one.
“The last couple (years) nobody wanted to do anything about (losing),” he said. “This year, I swear I was sitting right next to Monty Beisel. I’m not sitting next to him anymore. There were a lot of guys that I was sitting next to or seeing, saying hi to, and now they’re not here no more. If anything, it’s their dedication to always make this team better day in and day out, no matter who’s involved or what’s going down, you always see this team changing. From my perspective, this is the first time I’ve actually seen them try to do something right now about it instead of waiting for the draft or whatever.”
Even if nothing more than a veiled shot at Herm Edwards and Carl Peterson, that statement was still complimentary of Haley and Pioli.
“There was never that fear, most guys never had that fear,” said Johnson. “I’d see it on guy’s faces where they were just like, ‘Oh I’m going to be here. I’ll just ride it out.’ Even when Dick (Vermeil) and them was here, I used to see guys real, real comfortable, and I was like ‘Shoot, I wish I could be that comfortable.’ In this business, it’s a productive business, and you’ve always got to be ready, and if you don’t produce, you’ve got to understand there’s always going to be somebody to take your spot.”
“I’m by no form comfortable. I already lost $3 million from that little deal, so I know I’m not comfortable. My reputation is on the line as far as being with this team, and I’ve always got to prove myself day in and day out. As you can see, there’s already like three or four running backs already playing with me, so it’s a situation where I’m never feeling like I’m comfortable.”
These were statements made less than a month ago. They’re the exact type of thing Haley probably wanted to hear – LJ wasn’t “comfortable,” knew he still had to work for his spot, and was on board with the culture Haley’s trying to create.
Then a week later, after a loss to the Giants, Johnson repeated the word “ego” like a broken record after numerous questions in the locker room. He never clarified what he meant, and Haley swept it under the rug as though it never happened.
Then just last Thursday, Johnson referred to his frustration, using LaDainian Tomlinson’s as an example.
“Watching him on Monday night (against the Broncos) he was really frustrated because some plays they took him out of scoring touchdowns, or doing what he does best can get him a little frustrated, which is understandable,” said Johnson. “Same thing with me, if it doesn’t (go right), just know you just can’t get frustrated, you just got to stay with it.”
Again, Johnson said the right things, what Haley would hope to hear from one of his highest-paid players. Johnson was talking about how to maintain his frustration. Then, he went off on Twitter.
“My dad played for the coach in ‘remember the titans.’ Our coach played golf. My dad played for the Redskins briefley. Our coach. Nuthn.’ "
It seems as though Johnson’s true colors are now shining through. He essentially called out his coach for being unqualified. He might go on to claim he was just talking about how his father’s credentials as a coach are underappreciated, but is there any way he can spin that to repair his relationship with Haley?
Does the relationship need repair? Or will Haley just sweep it under the rug like he did the ego comments?
One thing is for sure - it's going to be impossible to sweep LJ's latest controversial quote under the rug. Reportedly, he dismissed the Kansas City media with a homosexual slur Monday.
While we wait for some kind of closure, there is plenty to discuss. After last season’s off-field turmoil, many, including myself, thought there was no way Johnson would be back in Kansas City this season. Surely the hard-nosed Haley would cut him loose in fear of seeing his culture change poisoned.
But Haley kept Johnson and gave him a clean slate. Disregarding someone’s pattern of behavior is never a good idea. A mistake or indiscretion you can forget, but not an established pattern of misbehavior. Now LJ is acting out again. Go figure.
Did the Chiefs try to deal Johnson, but were unable to find a suitor? If an attempt was made no criticism should be leveled against Pioli and Haley. But if they kept him because they lacked talent at running back, even though they could have moved him, they missed out on an opportunity.
One of the most frustrating aspects of LJ’s behavior and retention as a Chief is the way in which Jared Allen became a Viking. Once again, Carl Peterson finds a way to frustrate from his retirement home. He did not give Allen a proper extension offer because of Allen’s DUI history, trading him because of character issues while handing Johnson the pay day of a lifetime.
Multiple accusations from women and numbskull sound bites later, Peterson’s decision stings even more.
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