The League

NFL Crime Watch

Why Did The Colts Cut Ed Johnson?

How quickly the axe can fall when you break the Indianapolis Colts' rules. In less than 48 hours starting defensive tackle Ed Johnson went from being cuffed to being cut. Not even the Brickyard has such swift justice.

According to a team spokesman, police pulled Johnson over early Wednesday morning for speeding. They allegedly found drugs in his car. Johnson, who went undrafted in 2007 after disciplinary issues during his time at Penn State, was charged with marijuana possession. At around 4:30pm Thursday he was officially cut from the team.

Colts President Bill Polian issued a statement which read in part: "Given the circumstances surrounding Ed's original employment with the Colts, we feel in this case that we have no choice but to take this action."

And there you have it. A player gets charged for marijuana, has a past history and gets cut. Strict, but fair.

But wait a minute, wasn't pro bowl wide receiver Marvin Harrison investigated in a shooting last summer in Philadelphia? Didn't he admit to being involved in a bar fight last spring? Why is he still catching passes for the team?

Well, first off Marvin Harrison was never charged with a crime. True, reports indicated that a victim was shot near his car wash with a custom-made Belgian handgun similar to one owned by Harrison. And investigators working the case confirmed for me that, "six bullet casings found on the scene did match his gun."

But when it comes to waiving a player, the Colts look at the whole picture. According to Polian "we consider every violation of a team rule or NFL policy on an individual case-by-case basis."

Harrison was never charged with a crime, Johnson was. And while The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office confirmed that the Harrison case is still under investigation, Lt. Richard Brown, who is heading up that investigation, explained to me that "Harrison, his lawyers and the Indianapolis Colts have fully cooperated." Johnson has a history of legal troubles. Harrison, along with Peyton Manning, holds the record for most receptions between a quarterback and a wide receiver.

A spokesman for the Colts refused to elaborate on what standards are necessary to justify waiving a player. He went on to say there were no inconsistencies between the two cases. Moreover, Marvin Harrison plays wide receiver -- a position of which the Colts have plenty. Johnson is a defensive tackle, a position Indy is lacking. Certainly this couldn't have been a pragmatic decision, at least not from a player personnel perspective.

If anything it was a decision based on the team-family dynamic, espoused by Head Coach Tony Dungy. As he said yesterday, "you're dealing with young guys and you're dealing with lifestyles that aren't mine. I have no false reality to think that everybody's going to be like I am, but we do have certain responsibilities. We have responsibilities to our teammates during the season and we have responsibilities to the people that watch us. I personally think we have young kids that watch our players and I think we need to send the right type of message and be the right type of role models... this wasn't done with the idea of sending a message, but if there was a message sent I think it was a good one."

Do you agree?

By Emil Steiner  |  September 12, 2008; 6:34 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Colts Cut DT Johnson After Pot Bust | Next: Milloy May Need Lawyer


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i do not agree because its nothing but a little green as long as he does not show up to a game or practice on it what he does away from the team does not have anything to do with the team so he should still be playing for the colts

Posted by: C-Adams "MADISONVILLE" | September 12, 2008 10:11 AM

YOu know that Tony Dungy is such a religeous fruit he wont allow marijuana of any kind. To him its worse than shooting or guns.

Posted by: Pv | September 12, 2008 10:16 AM

How bout because he was a pot head and unlike snowboarding being high on the d-line ain't helpful!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2008 1:58 PM

You can't underestimate the PR disaster that has been the Indiana Pacers as to why Johnson was cut. The Pacers have had a big hit to their box-office because they've had so many players with criminal run-ins, and because until recently they didn't seem too concerned about it. The Colts aren't going to risk going down that road.

Posted by: Ex-Hoosier | September 12, 2008 5:32 PM

The whole Colts organization spanks of the religious right. Creepy stuff. Dungy calls mini-camp Jesus camp.

Posted by: Frank | September 12, 2008 5:44 PM

Plus Ed Johnson can't catch.

Posted by: duo11 | September 13, 2008 2:43 PM

It's silly to cut him for this offense. The crime Harrison was involved in is serious, and his guilt likely; Johnson in a number of states ( and most of Europe) would not be considered having committed a crime. The stupidity of a football coach can never be overestimated.

Posted by: Joe | September 13, 2008 4:52 PM

The stupidity of commenters cannot be under estimated either. Joe, it is legal to own a gun, it is illegal to own grass. Johnson broke the law, Harrison did not. End of story.

Posted by: Big Mac | September 13, 2008 5:25 PM

Tony Dungy is the biggest moralizing hypocrite in the NFL. If he ever succeeds in winning a Super Bowl, the heavens will open and he will ascend directly into the skies on a cloud. This two-faced bypocrite has one set of rules for his favorites and another set he pulls out whenever he needs to buff up the shine on his halo. Tony Dungy makes me want to puke.

By the way, it's a bit early to say that Marvin Harrison didn't commit a crime. I mean, a guy was shot near Marvin's car wash with Marvin's gun, and he had nothing to do with it? Who's covering up for whom here?

Posted by: Ace | September 13, 2008 8:17 PM

I have heard some idiots in my time, but these above comments are almost funny they are so stupid. Here's the deal (from someone who actually lives in Indianapolis). Ed Johnson had been getting in trouble for a little while. He came to the team with some baggage. Marvin Harrison has earned the benefit of the doubt for 12 years of service (and trouble-free service at that).

Coach Dungy is a religious man but he doesn't force that on the team. That's the main part where you guys are basically idiots.

Posted by: WilliamBentley2 | September 13, 2008 11:46 PM

By the way, does Saint Tony still amplify the crowd noise during crucial third-down situations, or did the league finally tell him to knock it off?

He just makes me want to puke. That hypocrite...

Posted by: ACE | September 13, 2008 11:55 PM

Wow, bunch of morons here today...I can imagine that it was probably in his contract that if he violated any of the team rules, he's out.

Colts President Bill Polian issued a statement which read in part: "Given the circumstances surrounding Ed's original employment with the Colts, we feel in this case that we have no choice but to take this action."

Posted by: Matt S | September 14, 2008 8:56 AM

So, basically you're saying there is a double standard. Is that fair? No. What would have happened if you or I had fired that gun?
Welcome to pro sports! In fact welcome to America.

Posted by: riverside | September 14, 2008 10:13 AM

Some of us in Indy are sick of Dungy. He needs to spend more time coaching and on his own family (who now live in FL) than preaching to the rest of us.

Peyton may have a clean cut image but it's a poorly kept secret around town that he is more like what you would typically envision a prof athlete...

Posted by: anon in Indy | September 14, 2008 10:27 AM

Didn't Tony Dungy's kid OD on drugs?

Posted by: Truth Hunter | September 14, 2008 10:30 AM

Hey Ace -- Dungy did win the Super Bowl. Two years ago. Don't you remember?

Posted by: J.B. | September 15, 2008 9:09 AM

The messed up thing is, marijuana is probably a better pain killer for all these atheletes' aches and pains than the pharmaceutical crap they're prescribed. I bet that's why a lot of them use it, aside from the fact that they like to get stoned like almost half of the rest of the US population.

When will sports organizations get on the ball? I can understand disallowing steroids, coke, meth, but cannabis? It's stupid, just like the war on drugs itself. Help end it at

Posted by: Derek | September 15, 2008 10:04 AM

Wow, J.B. -- I had completely blanked out on the fact that Saint Tony has already won his first (and only) Super Bowl. I guess I was wrong -- he wasn't lifted into the heavens on a cloud after all.

Sure looks like God is a Dolts fan this year -- not...

Posted by: Steve | September 15, 2008 7:44 PM

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