While Traveling America’s Highways and Byways
Now the Chiefs and Larry Johnson wait to see what the Commissioner has to say.
And what an arbitrator has to say about his contract in a grievance proceeding filed by the NFL Players Association.
And yes, it’s another Chiefs soap opera that has little to do with football.
Let’s start with the judicial end. On Friday, Johnson pleaded guilty to a pair of disturbing the peace charges in a plea arrangement with Kansas City prosecutors from two separate incidents involving women at K.C. nightclubs. The first happened last February at the Grand Emporium; the second incident came in October at Club Blonde.
Johnson was sentenced to two years probation by Kansas City Municipal Court Judge Joseph Locascio, but if he follows all the court’s orders and gets through two years without further problems, the guilty pleas will be removed from his record.
What everyone waits to see is whether Johnson’s ability to play in the NFL will be removed for a game or two. Johnson was suspended by the league last November for one game after he was charged with the October incident.
At that time, Commissioner Roger Goodell was very clear in what he told both Johnson and the Chiefs. The suspension was one game, but there could be additional sanctions based on the outcome of legal proceedings.
The legal outcomeÂ is notÂ good for Johnson in the eyes of the league. By pleading guilty to the lesser charges without going through any type of trial or presentation of evidence, that’s a pretty good indicator that Johnson and his legal eagles were not especially confident about winning in court as they knew the evidence was not in their favor. In fact, when asked by Judge Locascio whether he would be found guilty of the charges in a trial, Johnson replied in the affirmative.
Based on how Goodell has handled things during his reign as Commissioner, there seems little doubt that Johnson will receiver further league discipline. What Goodell looks for in these incidents is a pattern of behavior and there’s no question there’s a pattern with L.J. These two incidents bring to four the number of times law enforcement was called because of problems involving Johnson and women.
To be able to remove all of this from his record, Johnson must stay out of further trouble. He is not allowed to consume alcohol or be present in any Kansas City bars or nightclubs after 9 p.m. He must also complete anger control counseling and perform 40 hours of community service with the Police Athletic League.
Then, there is the grievance that has been filed over his contract. When Johnson signed his new deal, he signed a contract that included a clause that laid out situations where if he had problems off-the-field, whatever guaranteed money that remained at that time in the contract would no longer be guaranteed. One of those situations was being suspended by the NFL for non-football behavior.
Johnson signed off on the language, as did his agent at the time Alvin Keels, as did the league and as did the players association, which sees every contract. When Johnson was suspended by Goodell for a game, that triggered the clause and future bonus money and base salary guaranteed in the deal were no longer locked in. Johnson can still earn those dollars, they are just no longer guaranteed.
When he was suspended, Johnson was reminded of the contract’s language and raised no complaints at the time. He also re-paid a pro-ration of his signing bonus because of the one-game suspension.
The union has pursued the grievance, and they’ve attached it with a case that involves former Atlanta Falcons defensive back Jimmy Williams who was released by the Falcons are being arrested. His contract contained similar language.
It’s hard to imagine how the Chiefs lose this grievance, given that everyone involved was aware of the language and raised no objection at the time.Â But stranger things have happened.
If they are interested in trading Johnson, or even releasing him outright, the arbitrator’s decision will be important. If he rules in the Chiefs favor, it would mean those guaranteed future dollars would not count against the Chiefs salary cap and accelerate into this season. The team has plenty of room under the salary cap, but no team likes to see cap space wasted on situations like this one.
The grievance will be heard this coming week.
CHIEFS WILL GET TO KNOW AARON CURRY
Wake Forest LB Aaron Curry is considered by most NFL teams as the top defensive player available in this year’s Draft. For weeks now, mock drafters have him slotted for the No. 3 pick to the Chiefs.
Whether that’s true or not, the Chiefs are certainly showing they want to know all they can about Curry. They’ve set up a private workout with him and he’ll make a visit to Kansas City before the Draft.
Curry will work out next week for the Chiefs in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Then, he will visit Kansas City on April 14.
In the workout, the Chiefs will want to see Curry do some specific things that they’ll ask him to do in their defense. Otherwise, there’s little reason to work him out because he did so at the NFL Scouting Combine and Wake Forest’s Pro Day earlier this week.
But it’s the time spent with Curry on a one-on-one basis that will be important to Scott Pioli and his crew. They want to know what kind of person they would be drafting and especially, how important football is to the young man. The search for these so called intangibles is what these meetings and workouts are really all about.
Curry has already visited Detroit, as the Lions have the first pick. He’ll leave Kansas City on April 15 and go to St. Louis and visit with the Rams, who have the second selection. Reportedly, Curry has visits scheduled with the six teams holding the top slots in the first round.
TYLER THIGPEN IS B.M.O.C. IN SOUTH CAROLINA
Chiefs quarterback Tyler Thigpen is getting a lot of attention in his home state of South Carolina for his performance last year with the Chiefs. Just as he was getting ready to head back to Kansas City to begin the team’s off-season program, Thigpen was honored by the South Carolina legislature.
Here’s part of what the resolution said:
Whereas, Tyler Thigpen, a remarkable football player for Coastal Carolina University’s football team, became the first player ever from Coastal Carolina University to be selected in the National Football League Draft. He joined the elite of his sport by becoming a member of the National Football League as quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs; and
Whereas, a native of the Palmetto State, he is from Winnsboro, South Carolina. He attended Fairfield Central High School and became an ALL-South Carolina selection as a senior running back. In 2002, he selected to attend Coastal Carolina as the first quarterback in the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers history majoring in sports management. He led the Chanticleers to the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs and a Big South Conference championship. He holds the single-season and career passing records in every major statistical category at Coastal Carolina; and
Whereas, South Carolina is proud of Tyler Thigpen’s outstanding achievements and is ecstatic about his becoming a member of the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League, where his excellent skills and ability are sure to distinguish him as a superb professional football player. Now, therefore,
Be it resolved by the Senate:
That the members of the Senate of the State of South Carolina, by this resolution, congratulate Tyler Thigpen, former star quarterback of the Coastal Carolina University Football team, on his exceptional contributions to that team and on becoming a member of the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League, and granting him best wishes for eminent success and an extended career in Professional Football.
Here’s a photograph of Thigpen receiving a copy of the resolution from the South Carolina legislature.
FROM THE NFL PERSONNEL WIRE
49ERS - released OT Jonas Jennings; signed OT Marvel Smith (Pittsburgh).
RAVENS – restricted free agent punter Sam Koch signed tender offer.
SAINTS – signed DT Roderick Coleman.
SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …
Born on March 28, 1975 in Alpharetta, Georgia was P Daniel Pope. He joined the Chiefs as a rookie free agent out of the University of Alabama in 1999. He was the Chiefs punter that season, kicking 101 times and average 41.8 yards per kick, with a net average of 35.1 yards. Pope finished up his career with a season in Cincinnati and one-game with the New York jets.
Born on March 29, 1966 in Portland, Oregon was WR Robb Thomas. He was the Chiefs sixth-round pick in the 1989 NFL Draft out of Oregon State. Thomas played three seasons with the team (1989-91), appearing in 39 games with 25 starts. He caught 92 passes for 1,098 yards and seven touchdowns. After three seasons at Arrowhead, Thomas spent four years with Seattle and then three years in Tampa Bay. He finished his career with 174 catches for 2,229 yards and 11 TD catches.
Born on March 29, 1956 in St. Louis was TE Paul Randolph Coffman. In his 11-year NFL career, Coffman played two seasons with the Chiefs (1986-87). He appeared in 27 games with 24 starts. Coffman caught 17 passes for 117 yards and three touchdowns. He spent most of his career with Green Bay.
Born on March 29, 1969 in Fort Pierce, Florida was G Jeff Blackshear. He played nine NFL seasons, including 2000 with the Chiefs where he started 15 games at guard. Blackshear also played with Seattle, Baltimore and Green Bay.