Haley Should Cut Johnson

Jamie Squire - Getty

Todd Haley didn't want to talk about Larry Johnson at Monday's press conference. His only comment on the situation – a combination Twitter/locker room meltdown from Johnson – was to issue a canned statement about how he expects his players to behave.

"How our men conduct themselves and how they represent the Chiefs is very important to me personally, and to our owner and general manager," he said. "So that's what's most important - how the Kansas City Chiefs represent themselves in the city of Kansas City and the country.

"I'm not going to go into that any further, because we are looking into the situation. I will reiterate again how our players conduct themselves with and through the media in a public setting is very important to us as an organization. We are gathering facts, so to speak."

Haley really didn't have to say much more, and in fact, his silence spoke volumes. That's because Johnson has become largely irrelevant in Kansas City. That much is evident when the biggest headline he's made this year is because of his words, not because of his actions.

Johnson hasn't broken a run over 17 yards this season. He's averaging only 2.7 yards per carry and hasn't scored a touchdown. Sure, the Chiefs can't block and the lack of a deep threat means the line of scrimmage is as crowded as can be. It's not easy for LJ. That doesn't mean Haley can't find another running back to do what Johnson has done this year.

It's time for Haley to cut Johnson. When a player doesn't produce on the field and embarrasses himself, his organization and his fans, what other option is there?

Johnson has betrayed any trust anyone might have placed in him. Despite his past, Haley gave him a clean slate, started him in every game this season, handed him the ball more than anyone else, and he's squandered that opportunity. Scott Pioli deemed Johnson's talents suitable for his roster this season, but now Pioli has to be wondering why Johnson wasn't the first player he cut during the offseason. Team owner Clark Hunt went so far as to express confidence in Johnson through the media, despite all his off-the-field troubles and comments about wanting to leave Kansas City.

Apparently all of that was lost on Larry as he fired up his keyboard and his mouth. He collectively slapped KC's leadership in the face with a few Twitter comments and a homosexual slur in the locker room. Is that any way to represent the Chiefs?

Johnson's coming apology, announced through his agent Monday, will be hollow and worthless, like his contributions on the field of play. We've heard it all before. Larry has apologized for all of his misdeeds, but they just keep on coming. So, we shouldn't accept his apology.

Will Haley?

While he wouldn't talk about his "star" running back Monday, he spoke at length on the subject Johnson trashed him over – his lack of experience playing football. Haley spent his college years playing golf for Florida and Miami. But he was clear in pointing out that it didn't strike him as a negative, that plenty of great NFL head coaches lacked real playing experience.

"I'm very proud of the route that I took to get to where I am right now," said Haley. "I'm very proud of being able to grow up around, in my opinion, one of the best football people that there are, and to be around the teams and the players that I was around on a daily basis. I think that that has given me great insight, as I've progressed in the coaching field, into what good and great is supposed to look like."

"I think I'm here for a reason. I think I've earned what I've done in the NFL through hard work and through executions and results. I think if playing is a prerequisite for being a great coach, you can eliminate some names, so, like I said, I'm here to coach. I'm not here to play."

So it's obvious Haley isn't losing any sleep over Johnson's comments. In fact, according to one report, he waltzed into KC's team meeting Monday with a golf cap on, much to the amusement of his team – everyone except Johnson, who apparently wouldn't even make eye contact with his head coach.

If Larry can't even look Haley in the eye now, what future does he have with the Chiefs? Why does he have any worth to the team as the only running back in the NFL with more than 100 carries but less than three yards per carry? Even if he rips off 300 yards rushing and six touchdowns against the Jaguars after KC's bye week, is it really worth it if he's going to attempt to undermine the authority of his head coach in a public forum and shoot his mouth off in the locker room, inciting anger from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation?

The only logical course of action for Haley is to cut Johnson. At the least, he should be deactivated and banned from Arrowhead Stadium for the rest of the season before being dumped in the offseason.

Not only does this rid the Chiefs of a huge distraction, it denies Johnson the chance to break Priest Holmes' franchise rushing record. Johnson doesn't deserve the record. If he breaks it (he only needs about 80 yards), he will have limped to it in the most pathetic way possible. Johnson is the antithesis of Holmes both on and off the field. It would be an embarrassment to everything the Chiefs stand for - hard work, loyalty and sportsmanship - if Johnson held a major team record for the next decade or two. It would be a blight on the history of the franchise.

Johnson has no value to the Chiefs that Jamaal Charles or Kolby Smith can't provide (other than drama). Haley, of course, actually talked about Charles and Smith Monday.

"I'll say this about Jamaal, I think Jamaal is starting to get it," said Haley.

"I think Kolby Smith looks like a running back, and I like the way he works and the way he acts," said Haley.

Is Johnson "starting to get it?" Does anyone currently like "the way he acts?"

Based on his behavior since Sunday's game, it doesn't appear so. Haley can save himself plenty of headaches by removing Johnson's presence from KC's locker room and preferably, the franchise as a whole. And then he won't ever need to talk about him again.


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