Brown was the meanest, nastiest and probably the best to ever play his position. Why can't people just accept Larry Johnson for who he is every time he does an interview? He's just a grumpy, confident and angry football player who happens to be perhaps the best running back in the NFL. We're lucky to have him in Kansas City.
The first time I did an extensive interview with Johnson was at the end of the 2004 season. It was clear then, as it is today, that Johnson's cold demeanor comes off as arrogant or cocky. Even though he's selective in the players he hangs out with in the locker room, his actions on the field speak volumes. Johnson cares a great deal about all of his teammates.
"There's only one goal, to get Will Shields and Willie Roaf and Trent Green and those guys a championship and a Super Bowl," Johnson said Thursday. "[Rushing for 2,000 yards] isn't one of my goals. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, I've got about four, five, six, seven, eight years ahead of me to try to get that record. Willie Roaf and Will Shields don't have as much time left to get a Super Bowl ring. They don't have championship rings for guys that get 2,000 yards."
Does that sound like someone who doesn't care about his teammates? I won't sit here and tell you that Johnson's motives will set the world on fire or Chiefs fans will be endeared by his comments. Instead, we're simply the beneficiaries.
Johnson has his own demons and skeletons in the closet that shape his personality. Who are we to questions his motives for playing the most brutal sport on the planet? Even though Johnson created some of his own hardships early in his career here in Kansas City, he's not about to forget it or pretend like they never happened. Nor should he, because that's what formed him as a person and an individual. It's what drives him to be the best football player he can be in a Chiefs uniform.
"It just made me a little more frustrated," Johnson said of his third year with the Chiefs. "It made me a little bit more (upset) that I had to go into the season making up a lot of the ground I missed during my first two seasons here. I feel I've got to get the ball rolling because I feel like I'm still behind the eight ball."
Many people in the local media fixate on Johnson's relationship with Priest Holmes. The truth is that Priest Holmes will likely be a non-factor in 2006 and the Chiefs success will be squarely placed on Johnson's back.
Don't get me wrong, Priest Holmes was a great running back for this team, but his best games are behind him and Johnson knows it. The rest of us should accept that fact.
In the NFL, great players eventually become average. At that point they either retire or start playing at a lower level. That might be where Priest Holmes is today.
The fact that he's not medically cleared to play and he restructured his contract in the off-season does not bode well for his future in Kansas City.
This team is Johnson's, and everyone needs to understand it. Granted, his career might not stretch into his early 30's and it could end abruptly like Jim Brown's did when he was at the top of his game. We should all embrace that and let it play out because Larry Johnson is entering the prime of his career.
But some expect Johnson to change or become more comfortable around the media, just because we want to write better stories about him. That isn't going to happen. We need to accept him for the player and person he is and be thankful he carries the football for the Chiefs.
"I'm never happy," Johnson said. "I haven't started a full season yet. I haven't gotten this team to a Super Bowl."
What more can Chiefs fans ask for?
There's Nothing Wrong With LJ
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