Defensive end says he is innocent of charge

Defensive end Joe Johnson, recently charged with marijuana possession, says that he did not have possession of the drug nor was he driving the vehicle in Georgia in which was the drug was found. In fact, Johnson insists he was only in the area of the early morning incident.<p>

"(Marijuana) was not possessed by me as an individual," Johnson told a group of reporters after Monday's first practice of the Green Bay Packers June minicamp. "The affiliation is the vehicle in which the drugs were found in. I am the owner of that vehicle. No possessions were found on me nor was I driving the car. It's an unfortunate circumstance where I am tied to the situation because I am the owner of the vehicle."

Johnson said the incident occurred between stops of a nine-city tour involving Built to Last, a non-profit organization that conducts camps in different cities to benefit underprivileged youth. The 10th year pro admits he was only in the area of his silver Mercedes at the time of the incident.

"He was involved in a community outreach program, believe it or not when that happened," Packers coach and general Mike Sherman said. "They were in a caravan of people. Other people were driving his car. He denies that that was him that was involved in that. He denies that was him that was involved with that. (Marijuana) was not in his possession and he was not under abuse at the tme."

Johnson reportedly stopped his car in a turning lane of US Highway 319. A Tift County Sheriff's deputy saw the stopped car with its hazard lights flashing and approached the car. Johnson exited the car and asked directions to Tallahassee, Fla.

The deputy smelled marijuana smoke and searched the vehicle, finding what is believed to be a misdemeanor amount of marijuana, the report said.

Johnson, 30, posted a $1,625 cash bond and was released from the Tift County Jail before noon Thursday, county officials said.

Johnson signed a six-year, $36 million contract, including a signing bonus of around $6 million, with the Packers in 2002. He started the first five games last year, then suffered a season-ending torn left triceps in the second half of a win over the Chicago Bears on Oct. 7. He underwent surgery to repair the torn triceps a few days later.

"I hate for both organizations – both the Packers and Built to Last – to be affiliated with something of this sort. I want that to be known, so I have attorneys working on this situation and taking care of it. I'm going to get this knocked out and put the focus back on football."

Sherman said that he doesn't think Johnson will be suspended by the league. The coach said he will wait until the situation is settled legally before deciding if he will fine Johnson. "The only affiliation is me being the owner of the car," Johnson said. "I feel I was wronged. I feel I was done a disservice in the whole matter just by being the owner of the vehicle."

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