Larry Johnson hasn't kept his nose clean since he's been in the NFL but he's no Pacman Jones either. Not even close.
ESPN was mentioning Larry Johnson's other indiscretions off the field and I figured it was a good time to jump in with my in-depth feelings on this.
He was charged in 2003 with felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor domestic battery for waving a gun during an argument with a former girlfriend at his home. The charges were dropped when Johnson agreed to participate in a domestic violence diversion program.
Johnson also had charges against him dropped in 2005 after a woman who accused him of pushing her to the ground at a Kansas City bar failed to appear in three court hearings.
Add in the recently reported February '08 incident when Johnson pushed the side of a woman's face and the events of the last few days, that's four incidents involving threatened or real physical confrontations with women.
A pattern of violence?
I'm not sure about that.
Let's throw out the second accusation. If the woman can't even show up at the court hearing, I bet the chances of that incident being even remotely close to being true are about 5%. And she missed three straight hearings to add even more ridiculousness to the whole situation.
So, to be clear, we have two incidents of Larry Johnson being actually charged with crimes and, so far, no probation/jail time ramifications. Now we have a more serious, if true, accusation from the bye week.
Two incidents indicates to me a temper problem but not necessarily a violence problem, especially considering the relative "lightness" of the actual violence involved. It has been my anecdotal experience, through real life and otherwise, that assault charges like this can occur without a serious, real life incident. In other words, a very light situation can occur but if a person involved so chooses they can elevate the incident's legal status extremely quickly.
This is not to admonish anyone deserving of blame in such a situation but I'm sure many of these incidents involving police charges could have really been solved much more easily by non-litigious means. And it's the actual charges or reports in these situations that make the news story. Without those charges filed, it's just some "victim" running their mouth. A person looking to intentionally harm an athlete needs that slip of paper the media can point to say, "A report has been filed on XYZ player."
Again, this is just my opinion and I'm trying to tow a tight line. I understand that violence especially against women can elicit a lot of strong feelings so I want to distance myself from any skewing of my words that would make it seem like I was forgiving even the smallest incidents involving violence against women.
I'm not saying that Larry Johnson's incidents are "light cases"- I wasn't present at these incidents and I haven't read anything from anyone who was - but it's a fair possibility. A famous athlete like Johnson who leads such a public "club" life, is assuredly one of the most "typical" targets for hecklers and leeches who want to basically extort money from a multi-millionaire celebrities. With even one mention of slapping a woman, any athlete is going to be 1000% more of a target in the future. It's the other side of this celebrity life that Larry doesn't seem to deal with so well.
America is a very litigious society and that attitude undoubtedly is present in many celebrity hecklers (I don't really have a better word for that right now) who see aggravation as an easy way to a pay day.
Listen. Larry Johnson isn't a saint but he also hasn't done enough harm enough in my eyes to justify the scorn he's received in the past. Now, if this most recent incident is true, Larry Johnson is an embarrassment to mankind and it further validates the suspicions of the earlier accusations. If this latest incident is true, Larry Johnson is not fit to wear a Kansas City Chiefs uniform.
But, until these latest accusations are proven, Larry Johnson has been mistake prone in his social life but he deserves the chance to ride these latest accusations out without fans calling for his ousting. You can make the argument for Larry Johnson being cut/traded/whatever without mentioning his off-the-field incidents. He's made some mistakes but I don't think, not yet anyway, that he has serious problems keeping his hands off of women. One accusation turned out to be a joke and it's within the realm of acceptability that this one will turn out to have portions of it that are either blatantly false or extremely exaggerated.
Right now, it doesn't look good to me that this latest incident will quickly fade away. I mean, I wish the guy a fair trial if it comes to that but it's tough to believe that LJ doesn't have some proclivity to get too angry in certain situations. There's a lot of circumstantial evidence there.
Here's my unsolicited advice to Larry Johnson ala his football career, assuming the most recent incident isn't true - stay out of situations that make you an easy target to be taken advantage of. If LJ really wants out of Kansas City, he needs to understand his trade value has diminished significantly in the last two months because of his off-the-field accusations. He's burning more than one team bridge with his problems. The diva days are close to being over in the NFL (that's my theory anyway) and fewer and fewer teams will have the patience to put up with problem players.
Larry's diva act is beyond played out and I'm close to saying sell him at any cost. It's becoming more and more clear that Johnson is far from any type of team player.