Though it’s unclear whether and to what extent the NFL will take action against Chiefs running back Larry Johnson, the league office is at least looking into the situation.
Said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello via e-mail, “We are in the process of getting the facts.”
Within the past day, Johnson has directed the term “fag” at one of Johnson’s Twitter followers, and Johnson reportedly said in the team’s locker room to the media on Monday, “Get your faggot asses out of here.”
Kent Babb of the Kansas City Star has confirmed the latter, which first was reported by KCSP radio.
Though most regard the Personal Conduct Policy as a tool for punishing players who have actually or allegedly broken the law, the policy arguably is broad enough to encompass spoken words that do not give rise to criminal liability. Specifically, the policy encompasses “[c]onduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL players.”
The fact that Johnson has had prior incidents falling within the scope of the Personal Conduct Policy could prompt the league to take action in this case. The fact that the NFL has the full authority to decide punishment and then to review the situation on appeal could make it impossible for Johnson or the NFLPA to really do anything about it, if the league decides to throw the book at him.
The Chiefs also could decide to take action against Johnson for conduct detrimental to the team.