It all boils down to one truth – this could get ugly.
Why? First off, it doesn't appear that Johnson is truly sorry for his actions. Coming not even 36 hours after his half-hearted, canned apology, his appeal indicates a belief that he doesn't deserve to be punished. But being banned from Arrowhead for the bye week is no punishment. More than likely, Larry is thrilled to be as far away from Arrowhead Stadium as he possibly can.
So, it's only fair that the Chiefs suspend him and go after some of his money. That's what Johnson cares about more than anything, according to his own Twitter comments:
"Make me regret it. Lmao. U don't stop my checks. Lmao. So "tweet" away."
So, yes, now the Chiefs are doing what they can to make LJ "regret it."
What else can they do? That's where this really has the potential to get ugly. If the Chiefs are intent on not only taking LJ's money, but preventing him from even playing again this year, for any team, we could see this drama extended by weeks, if not months.
Consider for a moment that the Chiefs – specifically Haley and general manager Scott Pioli – might have a somewhat vindictive streak over all this. Judging by an internet petition begging Pioli to prevent Johnson from breaking Priest Holmes' franchise rushing record, Chiefs fans have turned on LJ in droves. The petition, started Tuesday afternoon, has already drawn over 500 signatures and doesn't appear to be losing steam. The torches and pitchforks are out.
But Pioli and Haley aren't fans. They are ruthless NFL leaders, who have already shown they will stop at almost nothing to accomplish their goals. When the Chiefs cut Will Franklin well before the first snap of training camp, that was ruthless. Every time we see steam blowing out of Haley's ears over a missed assignment or a dropped pass, we see just how cutthroat he is.
Pioli and Haley don't care about emotional attachments to Priest Holmes. They care about threats to their struggling franchise, and Johnson has threatened it from within.
Haley, a rookie head coach, can't afford to have big-name players questioning him on the internet. His credibility is already damaged by KC's 1-6 start and apparent lack of meaningful progress. He also can't afford to have players creating an environment unfriendly to reporters in and around Arrowhead Stadium.
When Johnson dropped his bomb inside the locker room, how do you think Haley felt? He's spent months treating the media with the utmost respect and professionalism. He's apologized for being late to a press conference. Haley, despite his temper, has remained calm even after the second-worst defeat in the history of Arrowhead Stadium (last week's drubbing at the hand of the Chargers). He wants the media to feel comfortable around him and at Arrowhead Stadium. Johnson threatened that goal with one little mumble.
And Pioli? His decision to keep Johnson around further damages an already shaky history as a talent evaluator in Kansas City. From Mike Goff to Ike Ndukwe to a disappointing draft class in which the best pick was the last pick, people are already wondering if Pioli is all he's cracked up to be. Now Johnson goes off and the hole gets a little deeper. The decision to give him another chance looks foolish.
This is Pioli's first battle with a disgruntled Chief. As a rookie general manager, he knows he has to win, or he comes out looking weak. Of course, he can't just dump Johnson immediately. That would send the message that if a high-profile player wants out, all he has to do is Twitter his way off the roster. Just as the Broncos did not cave to Brandon Marshall earlier this year, Pioli can't give Johnson what he truly wants – a ticket to another NFL city.
Instead, he has to get his hands a little dirty. He has to do everything in his power to show that crossing Don Pioli is a bad move. Maybe Johnson will soon wake up with the mangled front end of his Maybach lying next to him in bed.
So it's not surprising the Chiefs have threatened Johnson's money, could threaten his playing time, and won't even talk about him in public. Meanwhile, Johnson wasted no time in hollowing out his apology. The potential for a long, ugly battle is brewing and, who knows? We may not have even heard the worst of it yet. The Chiefs may have dirt on Larry Johnson nobody knows about.
Is an extended scrap between the Chiefs and Larry Johnson the best thing for the franchise? Probably not. But when money, power and ego collide, this is what happens.
Hey, maybe we should be grateful. This is the most entertaining the Kansas City Chiefs have been all season.
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