On Monday, Chiefs running back Larry Johnson returns from his one-game exile. The outcome was negotiated after the Chiefs suspended Johnson for two weeks after the veteran tailback ripped coach Todd Haley on Twitter, used a three-letter homophobic slur on Twitter, disrespected the paying customers on Twitter, and then uttered the six-letter version of the homophobic slur in the locker room the next day, in the direction of the media.
So, in the end, Johnson lost more than $330,000 in salary and per-game roster bonus.
Nancy Gay of AOL’s FanHouse.com recently reported that the league wanted the Chiefs to impose on Johnson a fine of $10,000 only.
That had been the going rate for using the “F” word that doesn’t rhyme with “truck.” In December 2006, Steelers linebacker Joey Porter used that specific word in relation to former Browns tight end Kellen Winslow.
Gay also points out that the league has said nothing at all regarding Johnson’s conduct. The silence sends a curious message at a time when Commissioner Roger Goodell has been vigilant regarding his enforcement of the league’s Personal Conduct Policy.
Regardless of the motivation (and we suspect that the league was hoping not to draw any more attention to an unfortunate and embarrassing incident), the NFL’s decision to say nothing at all about Johnson’s words conflicts with the very public attempts by the Commissioner to crack down on bad behavior.