A Hope For L.J.

Bob’s Note: We always welcome reader reaction and comments. Sometimes what comes through the e-mail box catches our attention because it’s written so well, or with passion and insight. When that happens, we like to pass along the work of our readers.

Thousands and thousands of jerseys in the Sea of Red … millions of dollars spent by fans across the nation … the bragging by Chiefs fans … the pride felt by Chiefs fans … the chanting, “L.J., L.J., L.J.!”

Gone in 60 seconds.

What happened to L.J.? 1,750 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns in 2005. Pro Bowl. 1,789 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in 2006. Pro Bowl. Eight games started in 2007.

And on November 4, 2007, everything changed. Larry was pulled down awkwardly by Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk and limped off the field. He would not play the rest of the year. There have been moments since then, moments which defined the L.J. of 2005 and 2006, the L.J. who Chiefs fans loved and worshiped. Those moments have been scarce, but each moment brought back the excitement to each and every Chiefs fan. L.J. is back, he’s back, he’s angry and he’s pissed. Watch Out!

Unfortunately, those moments were followed by letdowns. The ghost of L.J. past disappeared just as quickly as he appeared. Chiefs fans were again left wondering, what happened to L.J.?

Was it the new contract he signed? Was it the new coach? Was it the new scheme? Did he lose his heart? Did he lose his motivation? Did he lose the hunger to win? Does he party first and play football second? We may never know.

What I do know, is that when L.J. was punishing NFL defenses, he had the largest and loudest supporting cast in all of the NFL, Arrowhead Stadium, also known as the Sea of Red. Kansas City Chiefs fans from California to Maine were wearing Chiefs apparel, specifically Larry Johnson apparel, with pride. He even had his own line of apparel.

But, something went terribly wrong with Larry. The media portrayed a spoiled, self-centered, moody and unappreciative Larry Johnson, a person who didn’t care about his coaches, teammates or fans, a person who only cares about himself. And Larry lived up to it, somewhat, with his off-field problems. Did he kill anyone? No. Did he hurt anyone? No. Did he disrespect another human being. Yes. Did he disrespect himself, his employer and his fans? Absolutely.

But, is this the true Larry Johnson? Is the media correct in the image they have created? I don’t believe so.

Larry Johnson appears to those of us who don’t personally know him as an angry person at times, especially when the Chiefs lose. He shows his frustration, anger, disappointment and sadness on his sleeves and on camera. However, when the Chiefs are winning, he has done interviews, commercials, public relations events and even did a Herm Edwards spoof during a press conference. Everyone loved L.J. Every Chiefs fan needed L.J. But, the Chiefs coaches, players, fans and the NFL needed an angry L.J. There were banners that stated “Stay Angry, LJ” and “Run Angry, LJ” and NFL analysts and commentators who said the like. L.J. needed to keep the chip on his shoulder, he needed to keep his anger bottled up until Sundays and then unleash that anger on any defender who stood in his way.

He did and Chiefs fans loved it! Well, he did in 2005 and 2006. He did sporadically in Atlanta and Denver in 2008. There were flashes of old, but that was it, just flashes. As the flashes became common, so did the boos, the disdain and the talks of L.J. being a cancer to the Chiefs organization as a whole. The fans fell out of love with L.J. just as fast as they fell in love with him in 2005. However, it wasn’t all L.J.’s fault. He was beaten down for comments to the media about his disapproval with decisions being made within the organization, mainly his decrease in carrying the rock on Sundays.

L.J. wanted the ball; he wanted the ball in his hands all the time. He wanted it and needed it. He wanted to be the pillar on the offense. He was the machine. As L.J. went, so did the Chiefs.

Well, that’s how it used to be. Those days are gone as was the offense we knew during the Vermeil Era. Everything started to change when Herm Edwards came to Kansas City. It started in 2006 and continued on from there. Maybe the organization doesn’t want him, maybe the fans don’t want him and maybe L.J. doesn’t want either. It is truly a sad day in Middle America.

L.J. has a lot of tread still left on the tires. He has a lot of football left in his heart, the desire is still strong. The anger is somewhere, but can he find it? If you think about it, L.J. hasn’t played a lot. He really has only played three full seasons. He still has a lot to prove to himself, most importantly. He also has a lot of defenders to run over or through and a Super Bowl to win.

Would the Chiefs fans take the L.J. of 2005 or 2006, today? Would they take him to lead the new Chiefs into the 2009 season? It’s not too late.

I believe in L.J. I believe he truly cares about winning and playing football. I truly believe with help from his coaches, teammates and fans, he can get back to the Angry L.J., the one who destroyed defenders and opposing teams just a few years ago.

It’s up to L.J. to want to put forth the effort, time and commitment to make things right, to erase everything he said to the media and portrayed on camera. It’s time to start fresh. Time is not on L.J.’s side. There is no better time than now, when everything is fresh and new in Kansas City.

Run hard, run fast, run strong and run angry L.J.!


41 Responses to “A Hope For L.J.”

  • July 15, 2009  - gorillafan says:

    Thanks for sharing Bob,

    Very interesting, and I have to agree. I like larry, I think he can still do it, and I think he will.

    If Cassel has a good season, he needs Larry, and if Larry is to have a good season, he needs Cassel.

    I think we are finally going to start turning this thing around again!!


  • July 15, 2009  - findthedr says:

    “The media portrayed a spoiled, self-centered, moody and unappreciative Larry Johnson, a person who didn’t care about his coaches, teammates or fans, a person who only cares about himself. And Larry lived up to it…”

    LJ is a prima donna asshole that can only do 1 thing…run. Quality rbs are a dime a dozen, and LJ is on the wrong side of 30.

    Lets be clear, the media didnt create LJ, it just showed who he truly is:
    -4 female assault charges
    -being an asshole to reporters and hiding in the training room
    -showing up to team meeting/etc late
    -not listening to Vermiel because he is white.

    That is the real Larry Johnson. Hope some the other RBs on the team step up in preseason/training camp enough that the chiefs can tell LJ to GTFO!


  • July 15, 2009  - Tim Geary says:

    right on!!! Give ‘em hell LJ!


  • July 15, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    One is reminded of the old ‘Point/Counterpoint’ segment that ran on the CBS program ’60 Minutes’ in the 1970s. If this were that, Rin would play James J. Kilpatrick to Brent Ross?/the author’s Shana Alexander.

    Or to save time could reference Kendrew Lascelles poem – “When all the laughter dies in sorrow” as regards a Larry Johnson (the music group Chicago used the poem on their 1970 album – as did Lance Rentzel on a book same title published later.)

    “something went terribly wrong with Larry.”

    - yes, he started reading his own press clippings (or had someone else read them to him) & believed them…and/or went Ron Artest and thought himself more ‘rap’ than ‘runningback’, whilst ‘shooting’ himself nee football career his in the foot…

    “The media portrayed a spoiled, self-centered, moody and unappreciative Larry Johnson, a person who didn’t care about his coaches, teammates or fans, a person who only cares about himself.”

    - those killjoys the media – always dragging out a players dirty diapers for all to see…

    “And Larry lived up to it”

    - more so ‘down’ to it…

    “somewhat”

    - unadulterated consensus (if not 100% factual than close enough to it for media credibility)…

    “Did he kill anyone?”

    - dead men tell no tales…nor do snitches.

    “No.”

    - statute of limitations as such…

    “Did he hurt anyone?”

    - besides his foot, his atrophied from lack of use blocking skills any, and hit and miss pass catching knack same? Have I missed anything?

    “No.”

    - good as to the former; as to answer yours ‘no’, correct retort be ‘yes’- as in a) his teammates, & b) himself (not that he noticed perhaps afore Jr., Peterson, Herm, the Commish and the judicial system done ‘learned’ him some…)

    “But, is this the true Larry Johnson? Is the media correct in the image they have created? I don’t believe so.”

    - ‘created’…heh heh heh. The old mom & dad & extended familial adage “he was always such a ‘good’ boy” comes to mind…

    “Larry Johnson appears to those of us who don’t personally know him as an angry person at times, especially when the Chiefs lose.”

    - so what you’re saying is Johnson really be the great thespian Sir Laurence Olivier reincarnate?

    “He shows his frustration, anger, disappointment and sadness on his sleeves and on camera.”

    - and, he does that stupid ‘hand jive’ triangle thingy nonsense his after every td; fortunately, Rin’s been subjected to it less & less over the last few seasons – though as to success you can call said a ‘rap’ too, as in losing tack his.

    Remember Lar, while hijinx on the blog or message board be divine on football field said just looks like a caballine’s aft region…

    “However, when the Chiefs are winning, he has done interviews, commercials, public relations events”

    - which suggests that when they be ‘not’ winning, the usual Lar pose is struck as you described by way of those wascally wabbits in the media that they do ‘to’ him (Lar as innocent as the driven winter snow.) At the very least, suggests Lar is a front runner who wilts like a 10¢ orchid when times get tough.

    “and even did a Herm Edwards spoof during a press conference.”

    - perhaps Lar’s pseudo pantomime is the cause for Herm’s absence 2009 in more ways than one (beyond the formers football mediocrity of late that is.)

    “Everyone loved L.J.”

    - yes, like a man loves a shrew…

    “L.J. has a lot of tread still left on the tires. He has a lot of football left in his heart, the desire is still strong.”

    - uh huh…’Show Me’ be the battle cry Mizzou…

    “The anger is somewhere, but can he find it?”

    - can someone contact Weepy Dick Vermeil and have him trot out more of his “Lar needs to change his dirty diaper” revue nee routine?

    “Run hard, run fast, run strong and run angry L.J.!”

    - and keep running all the way past the endzone, up the tunnel and out of KC; Big Apple beckons.

    :cool: daddy-o, ‘search’ :shock: & ‘check’ :roll: affirming…

    :-)


  • July 15, 2009  - GMoney says:

    Nobody seems to mention the fact that around the time of his decline, We lost Wille Roaf, Will shields, Right tackle spot has been a swinging door. News flash it all starts up front, not to mention the conservative approach of Herman Edwards.
    I’m not saying those are the only reasons, but your offensive line his the heart of the team, and everybody who played football knows that, and ours hasn’t fully recovered from the losts of a few future hall of famers.


  • July 15, 2009  - pat says:

    ZZZZZZZZZZ…..He is paid to play..SO PLAY!


  • July 15, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    And at the end of an inning of blog play, the score is “The Pro-Larries” 3, the “Against-Larries” 3…

    :cool: daddy-o…


  • July 15, 2009  - anonymous says:

    LJ LJ HE”S OUR MAN, Hermon belongs in the garbage can.


  • July 15, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    But not Herm’a'n…huh

    :cool: daddy-o, ‘search’ :shock: & ‘check’ :roll: affirming…

    :-)


  • July 15, 2009  - Chiefs Fan in Ohio says:

    And if any of you have ever suffered a leg, knee or foot injury, you would understand they do not just go away. It can take awhile to totally recuperate, even in top athletes. The foot, along with the knees, take all the beating of running, walking, cutting and stopping.

    Plus, as someone else mentioned, we lost Roaf and Shields without suitable replacements (thanks Herm and Peterson).

    Two different draft choices I was hoping we would have made before drafting Bowe and Albert.

    When we drafted Tamba Hali, we could have drafted Santonio Holmes at WR. No worse than Bowe.

    When we drafted Bowe, we could have drafted Joe Staley for an offensive tackle.

    And we would still have Albert.


  • July 15, 2009  - Mark says:

    The KC media has been against LJ from day 1, thanks to DV turning them against him by openly admitting he didn’t want him, and then burying him 3rd string behind a guy he was clearly light years better than, Blaylock. But when DV finally needed him after Priest and Blaylock went down, LJ showed what he was all about, a superstar runner, and a very good back out of the backfield. Then Herm came and ran LJ into the ground with his clueless offensive “strategy”, epitomized in the Colt game, when LJ(and Waters, and Tony G) had enough of that kind of “coaching”. After injury, his own stupidity, and having enough of Herm, he asked out at the end of last year. Luckily, Clark brought in a GM and Coach who know what they are doing, and LJ is a good soldier again, and the key to any hopes we have for a successful 2009. I think he’ll achieve it, and lead this team to at least a .500 record, and if Cassel can hold up his end, hopefully more. Don’t overuse and abuse him, and don’t pull him automatically on 3rd downs like clueless Herm did. When you rest him, rest him for entire series, like SD does with LT.


  • July 15, 2009  - HatfieldMcCoy says:

    Well said findthedr. LJ is an overpaid, spoiled, violent brat. The Chiefs showed him the money and he lost the fire. He is content to smack women and not linebackers.


  • July 15, 2009  - Lee says:

    He’ll never be the Larry of old. But if we can get 1200 yards out of him, and another 800 out of Charles, I’d be OK with that.


  • July 15, 2009  - Scott says:

    Vermeil didn’t keep LJ on the bench for his abilities…he put him on the bench because he was a baby.

    And in my opinion…he still is.

    Once LJ got the “big money”…his motivation was gone. Plain and simple.

    Now?

    It’s money again. The only reason…the ONLY reason LJ is “motivated” again, is because he knows he’s down to his last chance to cash in. NOBODY is going to pay him anywhere NEAR what the Chiefs will have to pay him this year…if he doesn’t make the team. So, he’s saying all the right things and bustin’ his ass to make sure he’s on the roster on opening day. Otherwise, it’s a HUGE pay cut for him…if anyone else would sign him at all. He knows that.

    LJ is all about LJ…and $$$. That’s it. Personally, I’ll be glad when he’s gone. The guy has no class at all, and no matter what his talent level is…he’s an embarrassment to our team. He doesn’t deserve to be a Chief.

    Just my two cents.


  • July 15, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    And after 4 innings complete it’s the “Pro-Larries” 5 & the “Against-Larries” 5, w/2 others abstaining.

    Conclusion: Lar, you’re treading water…

    :cool: daddy-o, ‘search’ :shock: & ‘check’ :roll” affirming…

    :-)


  • July 15, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    ‘check’ :roll: got choked up there at the end…he also affirms.

    :cool: daddy-o


  • July 15, 2009  - ED says:

    findthedr that was way out of line saying LJ didn’t litsen to Vermeil because he’s white. So what now is he not going to litsen to Haley because he’s white be foreal. Anyways I expect LJ to have an excellent season and be a huge reason why Chiefs will be over .500 this season. Fact is LJ showed he still could be a great RB, but Herm went away from the run and chose to run the spread offense. It was that frustration that set off LJ to want to leave Kc because he knows he has alot left in the tank. I mean he could have been like some players took the money and did nothing after that, but this guy is a competitor and wants the ball and thats what i like to see out of a football player.

    Fact is the media does sometime portray guys to be something their not. No one in this world is perfect we all have skeletons in our closet that if they were out people would think less of us. Bottom line I’m looking forward to seeing the old LJ and its going to be great to see.


  • July 15, 2009  - ED says:

    And to does who say it was about the money please the guy got hurt in 2007 with foot injury. And in 2008 we were running a crazy spread offense that didn’t suit LJ abilities. Its amazing how people feeling are manipulated about what the media perceives people to be. Bottom line if it was about the money LJ wouldn’t have been complaining about wanting to go somewhere where he could get the rock. If you truly watched the Chiefs the last 2 seasons you knew LJ productivity had nothing to do with the money.


  • July 16, 2009  - Jim Lloyd+ says:

    If you like LJ, that’s good, and being liked means he will really want to stay.
    Now—- lets see with Roath & Shields not here, I also will not be able to dream of being the guy that I used to dream of, thinking how wonderfull it would be running untouched through those 4-5 foot holes.
    I wake up at night and have thouble going back to sleep because that one is fadding away—-sweet DREAMS.
    Sweet Youth
    Glory Day’s
    The way we were
    I miss my friend

    2 good songs & 2 good movies~


  • July 16, 2009  - Ross England says:

    ED, findthedr wasn’t out of line as he was just paraphrasing what LJ himself said during the Chris Carter Inside the NFL interview from a few years back. The bottom line is that LJ is in a no win situation in KC that is a combination of his off the field pugilistic exploits in the Power and Light district, his mouth and Carl Peterson’s skillful replenishment of the O-line. It’s doubtful that he will produce anywhere near a level that will make the KC faithful forgive or forget. He just doesn’t have enough time left to undo what’s done. Its time for Pioli/Haley to find the next franchise RB. To quote Gunny Tom Highway…”Don’t go away mad, just go away”.


  • July 16, 2009  - Tim says:

    Yes, the chosen for ultimate distribution email was well written…but this isn’t English I.

    LJ is a professional football player. He is paid to do a job, supposedly that he loves, to the best of his ability EVERY day. He pouted & got his money. The organization & the fans have not received his CONSISTENT BEST EFFORT…far from it. Vermiel needs to send him a letter to take the diaper he put back on, off again.

    Bob, as Smokey Robinson sang, these are “Tears of a Clown”.


  • July 16, 2009  - A Hope For LJ says:

    [...] A Hope For LJ [...]


  • July 16, 2009  - findthedr says:

    Thanks Mr. Ross England.

    Yes, LJ said something to the effect that he would roll his eyes when Vermiel was talking and not listen during meeting because he was a white coach, then said something to the effect it is good to play for a black coach (Herm).

    LJ was chummy with Herm for his first yr (even doing Herm impersonations), but that didnt last long. The stupidity of R2P2 killed it.

    Eventually LJ turned on Herm too and would show up late to meetings (as well as 1 time he was late for the plan and everyone had to wait on him). He also pretty much refused to pass block or catch passes. Herm got tired of his antics (and insubordination) and benched his ass.


  • July 16, 2009  - SG says:

    I’m “pro-LJ” (especially having won fantasy football league titles with him on my roster).

    That being said, he needs to pick his friends carefully and not go the way of Pacman. So far he doesn’t appear to have done a very good job of that.

    Should one blame Herm…or CP…or both for not addressing the line issues that have been there since 2005? I say both. Whichever one of them pulls the trigger on free agent moves and draft picks…the other one has the bully pulpit to say…WE NEED TO PROTECT OUR QB AND RB. This issue was not a mystery to them…and to be diplomatic…the issue was “insufficiently” addressed. I wonder if LJ can run with more anger when the opposing defensive line takes longer to get to him than essentially get to tackle him at the same point in time he receives a handoff.


  • July 16, 2009  - tm1946 says:

    My prediction for LJ in 09 – If healthy, he will show at least 90% of one of his better years and then he is gone in 10. If not healthy, excellent excuse why the team does not have enough quality players and he is gone in 10. Either way he will be gone in 2010 and we will have to find a different excuse if the Chiefs are not ready for the promised land.


  • July 16, 2009  - JT says:

    I agree 100% that the O-Line has not been addressed seriously, the only exception was stepping up to the plate and going after Albert in 08′. You can’t lose a HOF Tackle and Guard in successive years and think you can plug in scrubs like Jordan Black, Svitek, Sackintosh, and who ever else is on that long list of reaches. If we can keep Waters happy and lock down the line from Center to RT. I think Niswanger will continue to inprove at Center, but the Guard and RT spots,no matter how McIntosh and Goff play, need to be addressed for the future of the team and I seriously liked the way Herb Taylor played when he stepped in at times last year, I think he is a better RT right now than McIntosh, I justy hope the coaches play the best players and we draft and go after free agents in a smart and stategical way, the way Pioli has shown to do in NE. GO CHIEFS.!!!!!!


  • July 16, 2009  - anonymous says:

    JT,

    I too agree. To a certain point. I was certainly hoping that the Chiefs would go after guys like a Jason Brown, or some how traded around in the draft to get an Alex Mac.

    I think Goff was a great addition to the O-Line, he’ll make a bigger impact than a lot of folks expect, if Waters gets on board so Goff can play the Right Guard position, it’ll help McIntosh, add to that the fact that McIntosh will have a year of experience at playing on the right side and he’s 100% healthy, imo McIntosh will suffice. As far as a future Right Tackle, I think they did address that when they drafted Colin Brown. As far as Niswanger goes, I hope like hell he does improve, I like the guy, but he was pitiful last season, I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if Ghiaciuc or Wade Smith beat him out. The sad thing about this is, I don’t see the Chiefs carrying 3 Centers on the 53 man roster, and as far as I know Smith is the only one of the 3 that can play guard too, so chances are (in my estimation) either Niswanger or Ghiaciuc are gonna be odd man out, and Niswanger is of the old regime, so he’s going to have to show some major improvement or he could be in trouble.


  • July 16, 2009  - SG says:

    “I think Niswanger will continue to inprove at Center…”

    Is it now a foregone conclusion that Gut-check or whatever Rin called him is definitely a backup?


  • July 16, 2009  - tm1946 says:

    Niswanger to date was one of the poorest Centers in the league, To tall, spends most plays being knocked backwards. Gut-something was a starter in Cin. but they did not want to give him a uniform in 09. So it is possible to say we have the worst duo of centers in the NFL. Goff is past it but we may survive at least 1 more year at RG, same for McIntosh at RT. Then we have the soap opera of Waters. I feel Pioli/Haley really missed the boat not seriously taking some kind of action to fix the line while hiring every LB available in the NFL.


  • July 16, 2009  - B in SC says:

    Interesting to see several posters say LJ’s decline was primarily due to the erosion of the OL. Ever consider that maybe his previous production was just a by-product of having a great line? Maybe Boomer Grigsby could have run for 1700 yards in 2006! The “good” LJ may have just been the beneficiary of good timing to play behind an excellent line. No way to know.

    As to the articles point that LJ never “hurt anyone”. I would venture to guess there are several women and team mates that would disagree with that assessment.


  • July 16, 2009  - Ratso says:

    Also losing Wiegman was tough … I think he’s proving that was a bad decison by starting in Denver on an excellent O-line. Another bonehead mistake from the Herm Ers. As for LJ, I’m not an LJ hater .. I think he’s behaved like an immature person but he’s also had people rip on him for petty reasons … look at Bob’s post on his clothing selection. Hopefully, with the new regime we’ll have a different attitude from LJ. I think he’s still got a couple of years good years in him so maybe we’ll see the old LJ on the field this year.


  • July 16, 2009  - Jody says:

    As a fan I never had a problem with LJ when he acted like he had some sense. When he does he’s fine with me. That said let him learn how to pass protect and catch a little bit.


  • July 16, 2009  - anonymous says:

    Ratso,

    I agree that his attitude brought a lot of criticism on him, some justified, some, maybe not so much. But to go out in public dressed like that, screams I’MA PUNK! The Author was right.

    Jody,

    My sentiments exactly! Double, on your last sentence.


  • July 16, 2009  - findthedr says:

    Some would have you believe that racism is ok if it comes from a wise latina woman or a black man.


  • July 16, 2009  - being real says:

    Please, LJ was no inter city ghetto-raised kid. It makes me smile everytime a minority plays the race card and all the white folks start shaking. Frankly the “whiteman’s burden” is a joke but keep quaking.


  • July 16, 2009  - tm1946 says:

    It is odd how millions of dollars do not motivate professional players. We have to discuss over and over their mental state or history. Just odd, isn’t it? That seems true in all pro sports, even Zack with the Royals. Guess I should stick with college sports.


  • July 16, 2009  - Mark says:

    Casey in his last season for us, played far worse than Rudy did last year. He stone cold quit on the Chiefs, and they were correct to release him.
    No one was criticizing them for the move at the time. It’s not the Chiefs fault that he gathered up some pride and played well last year for Denver.




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