Roger Goodell once took away Tank Johnson’s livelihood.
But these days, the thing Johnson calls Goodell is friend.
The former Bears, Cowboys and Bengals defensive tackle is talking to incoming NFL players at this week’s rookie symposium, and said he can rely on the commissioner who once suspended him.
“I can pick up the phone and speak to him at any time, whenever I need to, about anything,’’ Johnson told David Steele of The Sporting News. “We’ve had a close relationship since 2006.”
That’s when Goodell suspended him for eight games for his second gun-related arrest in just over a year.
Johnson’s now 32, and prefers to go by his given name Terry, and has a strong story to tell rookies. For all his troubles, he thought about buying a gun after his car was broken into, but called Goodell before he bought it.
“I talked to him personally,’’ Johnson said. “I can reach out and talk to him. He wants to see you successful, and he wants to see you through it. All the guys, he wants them all to be able to do that. He doesn’t just discipline you and kick you out the door. He wants you to succeed, and he make the resources available for you to do that—including himself.”
Goodell-as-friend isn’t the kind of thing you expect to hear from any player, much less a severely punished one. But for Johnson, it’s true, and he doesn’t mind spreading the word.