Athletes Like Larry Johnson Are Targets

In the wake of the latest controversy involving a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, one has to wonder how in fact more things like this don't happen. Clearly the incident that surrounded running back Larry Johnson and his companion last Friday brought a hear-we-go-again attitude to much of the fan base.

When we first heard about this incident on Tuesday morning, it really didn't register as something to lend a whole lot of credence. First and foremost, the Larry Johnson that I've come to know doesn't appear to be the kind of person that would be willing to be the center of an off-the-field incident again.

His domestic incident his rookie year is well chronicled. It's in the past and by Johnson's own admission he learned a valuable lesson. Not the lesson we think, but the one where he is aware that he'll always be a target as long as he's a successful NFL player.

Let's face it. Larry Johnson is one of the hottest names in the NFL. If not for Priest Holmes sharing a locker next to him and minutes on the field, Johnson would already be receiving All-Pro votes. In fact, he might have some votes in his back pocket based on his performance in the last six regular season games.

The lessons he learned two years ago were painful. He is well aware that everyone knows he has a bank account, a nice car and a position on a NFL football team. That makes Johnson fair game for anyone looking to ride his coattails.

Outside of what Johnson said in the KC Star (where he adamantly disputed the events that were reported by the local rag), why would anyone not believe his words nor the statements of those at the scene.

Now, I don't profess to know the lady involved in the friction nor do I care where this took place. It's not my business or anyone else's in the media or in the community what Chiefs players do on their own time. On the other hand, some people are obsessed with famous people and they look to star athletes as far more than role models. They almost become stalkers; that has to be scary for those being watched.

As Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Dick Vermeil said in his weekly press conference yesterday, the NFL spends a lot of time working with these players and telling them about the dangers of people who prey upon their notoriety.

As much as we think this is a big city, it's not. If you do something wrong and you're in the public eye, then your secrets will eventually get out. That's unfortunate to say, but it's a reality and one of the pitfalls of being a famous athlete.

For Johnson the last thing he wants or needs are any distractions. He's part of a Chiefs team that has its sights set on winning a Super Bowl. After their 27-7 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday, this team and city are riding an emotional high. They head into ‘Raiders Week' with a chance to put a dagger in Oakland's hopes for a winning season.

But unfortunately some of the Chiefs haven't been ‘Choir Boys' this off-season. To some, that makes this a real news story. Well, it's not. Nor should it be. But in the world of radio and internet fodder, this drives ratings and traffic.

Now, I'm not knocking the medium. We are a part of it. Use of the information highway is at an all-time high. The internet has changed everything and little is private anymore. People like the young lady who has made these charges against Larry Johnson, understand that more than anyone, based primarily on her previous relationship with the Chiefs running back. Still, I'm not laying guilt or decreeing innocence in the matter. Like it or not, because of these new unanswered questions, this is now a story.

It appears that this is the classic he-said versus she-said kind of issue that quite likely will get thrown out of any reasonable court because someone is not being truthful. Plus, the facts don't seem to back up the claims. Simply put, a bruised arm is far less damaging than a bruised heart.

As for Larry Johnson, he'll be asked about this topic after Wednesday's practice. My guess is that Johnson will answer each question straight up with pinpoint honesty. Then once the media is satisfied, he'll quickly focus on winning the football game next Sunday night in Oakland.

And that's what the real story should be this week.

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