With Holmes on IR This Has Become LJ's Team

When rumors started circulating on Monday that the injury to Priest Holmes was far more serious than anyone was willing to discuss, people started scrambling to try and learn something that deep down each of us already knew.

There is no doubt that Priest Holmes is the greatest running back in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs. It's not even close. But on Wednesday afternoon none of that mattered. While all the talk centered on word semantics like retirement or injured reserve, the bottom line is that people in the coaching staff and management knew that Holmes career in Kansas City was coming to an abrupt end a day earlier.

The organization was very were quick to bring in a pair of running backs early Wednesday morning. One of them, Dee Brown was signed to a contract before the team announced that Holmes was placed on the injured reserve list.

But the addition of Brown won't likely impact this roster this season. At least let's hope not.

Instead for the next eight weeks the debate will rage on with fans as they determine if yesterday's announcement about Priest Holmes will be a good thing or a bad thing for the Kansas City Chiefs fortunes the balance of the season.

In Priest Holmes everyone knew he was money in the bank on Sundays. He's one of the games most prolific scorers in the history of the NFL. He has a Super Bowl Ring in tow and the NFL scoring record that may not be broken for decades. He did all that by doing it his way. He never sold out. Not bad accomplishments when you consider his career lasted nine seasons and he was never drafted.

Though that's important to note, the grim reality is that Holmes has been injured in three of the last four seasons. With the window of opportunity closing in on the Chiefs and their veteran offense, this announcement might indeed be a blessing in disguise.

No I'm not crazy but I am realistic.

Priest Holmes will be missed. But the cupboard is not bare in Kansas City. Thanks to the genius of team President Carl Peterson, who had the foresight to draft Larry Johnson back inn 2003 despite the heavy ire from his Head Coach Dick Vermeil, the Chiefs have another superstar ready to don the cap that Holmes wore since he came to Kansas City in 2001. The reality is that someday Johnson's career will end the same as Holmes might have on Wednesday. When that happens someone younger than Johnson will line up as the teams starting running back. That's how it works in the NFL.

What has been overlooked with the news that Holmes won't gain another yard for the Chiefs this season is the fact his health is deteriorating. It began with the hip injury at the end of the 2002 season and a strained knee in 2004 that forced him to miss the second half of the year. This season it was a stinger, a head contusion and neck contusion. Now he'll sit out the second half of the 2005 season.

Today the Kansas City Chiefs took the first step in their rebuilding process. They for all practical purposes jettisoned the Holmes model for a Johnson model. They exchanged a Rolls Royce for a Ferrari.

If there was ANY doubt about the playmaking ability of Larry Johnson after Sunday's 27-23 last second victory over the Oakland Raiders, those pessimists need to join Holmes on the injured reserve list.

For those that think Larry Johnson made a mistake for bantering with the media about playing time and the split rotation the last season plus, they don't understand what makes this guy tick. It's the same thing that made Priest Holmes tick. He wants the rock.

Still as workouts began in May Holmes was clearly not the same player he was when he came to the Chiefs four plus seasons ago. He was more withdrawn. He had spent significant time the last two off-seasons contemplating retirement. He set no goals for himself and that was unusual. Instead he understood that he'd have to share time with the younger stallion Larry Johnson.

But at the onset of the season it was clear that he wasn't ready to be put out to pasture either. He accepted the role because Holmes understood that he'd still get the majority of playing time on offense.

Johnson wasn't so sure. But for the most part he accepted his role in a manner that was light years better than the way he handled it the first two years of his NFL career. When he had the chance to get on the field he took advantage of every opportunity.

Now he's the man who'll steer the running game. Larry Johnson has the talent, ability and drive to carry this offense on his back. With the parts and pieces around him, Johnson brings a brass, angry style of running that ignites his teammates.

All-Pro Guard Brian Waters mentioned that fact after practice on Wednesday. Johnson brings a defensive mindset to the offense. He bangs the hole with a youthful exuberance that once was the hallmark of Priest Holmes. He is the type of player that his teammates can rally around.

For Holmes he'll take a week off and spend time with his family, where he'll be forced to soak in the harsh realities that hit every pro athlete when they age.

Priest Holmes if he's smart will call it quits at seasons end. He has nothing left to prove in the NFL. He only has to be a great father to his children and continue to be a role model for those who still look up to him as a person not as an athlete. Today, tomorrow or at the end of the season, the NFL needs to become a distant memory for Holmes. Someone is trying to tell Priest Holmes that it's time to leave the game while he can walk away from it with his limbs in tact.

The Kansas City Chiefs also has to move on because nobody in the NFL is going to feel sorry for them that Priest Holmes won't be playing for them the remainder of this season.

Instead they'll wonder if Larry Johnson is as talented as a starter as he was as a back-up. Because whether anyone wants to admit this or not, the Chiefs will go as far as LJ takes them this season. Their Super Bowl dreams rest squarely on number 27.

That means everyone has to come to the same conclusion. The Priest Holmes era is over in Kansas City and the Larry Johnson era will begin for real this Sunday in Buffalo.

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