Larry Johnson needs to grow up.
In the past, some have compared Johnson to players like Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. These comparisons never carried much weight, and to be honest, they still don't. That's because Moss and Owens stood up like men recently and faced the media.
Moss and Owens both scored touchdowns Sunday in their head-to-head matchup, but neither player had his best day. Moss had just 59 yards receiving, Owens 66. The longest catch between the two covered only 14 yards.
But Owens, despite losing, did not run and hide when the game was over. He did that during the week, leaving a prepared statement for reporters. After the loss he stood tall and fielded questions about his key illegal procedure penalty with the game on the line.
Moss, of course, also showed up, and had no problem taking a backseat to his teammates in a winning effort.
"I just wanted to do what I could to help my team win this game," said Moss. "I come to work everyday. I love seeing the guys. I love the camaraderie of the locker room and practice everyday. We have fun, but at the same time you've all heard about the humble pie."
Humble pie? I think Larry Johnson needs a big slice right now, because quite frankly he's starving for a little home-baked discipline. His actions on the field Sunday were inexcusable.
After a successful first-half (16 carries, 106 yards), Johnson ran into the old brick wall again for the rest of the game (15 carries, 13 yards). He didn't like it, and finally the frustration boiled over with four minutes left. Johnson threw the ball away after being stuffed for a six-yard loss on third down, and was flagged for a delay of game penalty.
This cost the Chiefs five yards in field position. It also stopped the clock, gifting the Cincinnati Bengals with precious seconds in their bid to mount a furious comeback. What's worse, this was LJ's second delay of game penalty this year – has he learned nothing?
Sure, I understand why he threw that ball – he's tired of getting thrown for a loss every other time he takes a handoff in a power formation (more on this subject Wednesday). But he had no right to do such a thing - Johnson's act was selfish. It was selfish because he was far from perfect Sunday – a fumble on the goal line, repeated lackadaisical errors in pass protection, and again, too much dancing (which can lead to six yard losses on third down, you know).
And then, of course, after all this was over, he escaped the scene of the crime without facing the media. Meanwhile, Moss and Owens showed up.
And it isn't the first time that's happened this year. Johnson didn't talk to the media after the Chiefs won their first game of the year against the Vikings, and he fled Arrowhead Stadium so fast after the Jaguars game he probably beat traffic. Leaving so quickly after a loss is one thing, but remaining silent after a win? Larry, can't you be happy for your teammates, regardless of your statistics? Moss certainly was, even if he didn't have his best day.
It seems to me that Johnson is so concerned with his numbers, he's letting it cloud his focus on the true goal – winning. He can't stand looking at the paper Monday morning and seeing his name next to that 3.4 yards per carry number. He can't stand watching LaDainian Tomlinson ripping off four touchdowns and rookie Adrian Peterson racing his way to over 200 yards rushing while he's repeatedly hit behind the line of scrimmage and gains as little as 12 yards in a game.
Hey, I feel the same way, Larry, but I'm a fan. As a player, and the highly-paid face of KC's franchise, you should be taking on the Trent Green role right now (and if the Chiefs need you to ram your head into the line of scrimmage to burn clock with a 17-point lead, so be it – statistics be damned).
For six seasons, Green was around after every game – every game – win or lose. No matter how many interceptions he threw or how poorly the Chiefs offense played, he was there to talk to the media.
Something needs to change. As a fan, this is embarrassing behavior to witness. I'm almost ashamed to wear that #27 jersey on Sundays right now. I can't even argue with the critics, because at the moment, they're right.
Look, I won't question Johnson's heart or desire in this space, and to be fair, I'm absolutely impressed and proud of the fact he's caught almost every pass thrown in his direction this year. That's an improvement.
But Larry desperately needs someone to get in his face and serve him a slice of humble pie. Maybe it's Herm Edwards, who repeatedly said he wasn't "a big stat guy," this week. Maybe it's team leader Brian Waters, who has had a major hand in Johnson's success over the past three seasons and put cornerback Benny Sapp in his place following a costly foul on Sunday. Maybe it's general manager Carl Peterson, who isn't getting his money's worth right now.
But to be honest, that pie would taste better if you baked it and ate it all by yourself, Larry.
It won't happen, but Johnson ought to be benched for the first quarter next week in Oakland. Seeing Michael Bennett and Kolby Smith taking his handoffs might just wake him up and realize how privileged he is to be playing in the NFL. And seeing Priest Holmes take them could really pay off in the long run.
Larry Needs Some Pie
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