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Dan Levy
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Dan Levy

The host of On the DL with new episodes every weekday.

How hard is keeping quiet?

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It's cheap heat to keep going back to that old Dick Vermeil comment about the diapers. I don't know who else is on this panel, but since Vermeil has been part of panels on this fine site before, I'll leave the acting like a child and/or soiling oneself comments for him.

I do, however, lead with that reminder because we had to see this coming, right? Character issues don't just go away because you rush for 1,700 yards and 20 touchdowns. The fact of the matter is, Johnson was a first-round draft choice at a skill position and thought he deserved the ball, the accolades and undoubtedly the money before he earned them.

In 2005 and 2006, Johnson did earn them. He was third in the league in rushing in 2005 and second in 2006 when he was named First-Team All-Pro. He was on a career path to stardom -- the stardom he felt he deserved right out of college.

Then something happened. He stopped being productive. He was hurt and inconsistent and his team -- which was never all that good when he was running well -- got progressively worse. Another coach was gone and in came a new regime.

When you're the best player on a team and your team stinks, it's on you. You don't get to jump ship unscathed. So all the complaining Johnson did about whatever is wrong in Kansas City, he should be complaining about himself. Was he completely overused in those two years and it probably ruined his career? Undoubtedly.

Shouldn't that give Johnson more reason to keep his mouth shut and be a good teammate? The owners tried to fix the problem by bringing in new leadership. If you were once a star and now you're not part of their plans -- again -- that's on you. The shelf life of a running back is short enough, you'd think he'd have the smarts to keep his trap shut, take his medicine, collect his paycheck and move on in the off-season to a team that wants him.

I'm not going to get off on a rant about how good the NFL players have it and how they should be happy they're in the league and playing sports for a living and whatnot. Undoubtedly the job of NFL running back is far more taxing physically and mentally than mine. But that doesn't mean Johnson shouldn't be grateful for the opportunity and realize that if he doesn't eventually grow up (would the line 'and put on some big boy pants' be cheap heat as well? probably...) he's going to find himself in the same place as us.

Out of the league.

Can Johnson come back? Sure. There are teams that need backups to finish off that playoff puzzle. There are teams that have one and two wins who surely think they can get through to the guy. Someone will sign him. As a fan, I just hope it's not my favorite team. He's a tough guy to root for... even for a second chance.

By Dan Levy  |  November 11, 2009; 1:03 PM ET  | Category:  Dan Levy , Kansas City Chiefs Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Just like Redskins' fans have a much deeper appreciation than most for what a terrible owner Daniel Snyder is, us Chiefs' fans who have watched LJ's antics in recent years were ready to kiss him goodbye.

As Joe Posnanski wrote in the Kansas City Star this week, LJ’s teammates didn’t respect or admire him as a person, and they didn’t respect the kind of football player he was. “He could not catch. He did not block. His effort seemed intermittent. He griped constantly. You think there was a single guy on this team who pointed at Larry Johnson and proudly said: “That’s what the Chiefs are about”?”

The #1 problem with LJ is that everything is all about LJ. That's all you need to know.

Posted by: DoreDad | November 11, 2009 4:28 PM

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