Game Time: The Larry Johnson Situation
Every spring I bring my kids to the Blue-Gold spring football game at the University of Notre Dame. Most seasons, we purchase tickets to that event that allow us (and several hundred other Notre Dame fans) to have breakfast with the team, and then meet all of the players in an exclusive autograph session.
Every year without fail, I come away impressed with the kids on the football team there. To a man, they are all some varying combination of courteous, talkative, and friendly, and every year I come away with the same thought -- "I would rather go 8-4 with kids like this than 12-0 with a bunch of thugs." (Of course, Charlie Weis has chosen to stretch the boundaries of my blind loyalty by putting up 3-9 and 7-6 seasons the last two years, but I'm still on board. You can't get rid of me that easy, Chuckles.)
Over the last three years in Houston, I've started to get the same feeling about the Texans. I'll start with the disclaimer that none of us really KNOW any of these guys completely, but as professional athletes go, it's hard to find a group that's easier to root for from a personality and professionalism standpoint than the Texans.
Go down the roster, and I don't think you find one guy where you say "that guy is a bad citizen". Whether or not this lack of "thuggishness" is actually a detriment in today's NFL is an argument for another time, but this is all part of Bob McNair's blueprint -- win with good guys. Signs are finally pointing to it paying off.
I bring this up because the Texans are rumored to be one of a handful of teams that will be kicking tires very shortly on the recently released Larry Johnson, late of the Kansas City Chiefs. If you're not familiar with Johnson's body of work, allow me to enlighten you, with analysis for each bullet point:
Johnson rushed for over 1,700 yards in 2005 and 2006
PRO: Shows that Larry Johnson at one point was more productive than virtually every Texans featured running back combined.
CON: Time travel is impossible unless you have a Delorean and can find a way to generate 1.21 gigowatts of spontaneous power. Sucks, I know.
In 2009, Johnson has rushed for 358 yards and 2.7 yards per carry
PRO: On the Texans, this would make him a borderline stud!
CON: In the "real world," this makes you expendable....to the Chiefs.
Since 2003, he has been arrested four different times for violent crimes against women, including waving a gun at a girlfriend, pushing women on two separate occasions, and spitting a drink in his girlfriend's face. Total fallout? Two years probation and some counseling.
PRO: He's one "slamming her head on a car hood" incident (or as Astros fans call it, a "Julio Lugo") from hitting for the cowardly domestic abuse cycle.
CON: He's never dated Elizabeth Lambert.
Larry Johnson turns 30 next week.
PRO: Business is probably about to pick up for strippers and whores in some city that is going to get a kick-ass 30th birthday bash!
CON: History tells us said strippers and whores have a better than average chance of having a gun waved at them, being pushed, or having a drink spit on them. (Also, NFL running backs don't usually become MORE productive after turning 30, so there's that.)
Larry Johnson likes to tweet!!
PRO: We get to hear his innermost thoughts, mostly related to Chiefs coach Todd Haley. These would include telling Todd Haley how he basically couldn't carry Larry Johnson, Sr.'s clipboard as a coach, telling Todd Haley that all he's ever done is play golf, and...what else....oh yeah, telling Todd Haley that he likes men.
CON: Honestly, none that I can think of.
I will admit the thought of seeing a tweet come from @LarryJohnson27 saying "Damn @CoachKubes8 why u hatin' on me?!? U afraid I might out you?!? Child pleez" is pretty damn enticing. But in the end, what we have here is a gun-waving, girl-pushing, drink-spitting, hate-tweeting, 2.7 yard per carry-averaging, 30-year-old running back.
While this profile will likely have the Raiders giving Johnson $18 million guaranteed sometime next week, the Texans don't need to be sniffing around Larry Johnson. So Bob McNair, Rick Smith, Gary Kubiak....on behalf of heterosexual football coaches, girlfriends who choose not to be beaten nor spit upon, and people who would prefer not to have guns waved in their grills, I beg of you, just don't do it. It's not worth it.
Catch Sean Pendergast on the Sean & John Show at 1560 AM The Game Monday-Friday from 3-7 p.m.