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View Full Version : Chiefs Posnanski Chimes in on LJ


Deberg_1990
10-26-2009, 05:16 PM
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/joe_posnanski/10/26/larry/index.html



I suppose it is pretty well known, at least in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area, that I sort of see myself as Priest Holmes' Boswell. For four years, from 2001 to 2004, I had this strange, interesting, confusing, intricate journalistic relationship with Priest. It should be said that he was an absolutely amazing running back those four years. Amazing. In 2001, he led the NFL in rushing. In some ways, that was his least impressive year.

In 2002, he was on his way to perhaps the greatest season a running back ever had before he hurt his hip ? in 13 1/2 games, he ran for 1,615 yards, caught 70 passes, scored 24 touchdowns and gained 2,287 yards form scrimmage. I have often tried to project that season out ... simple math comes out like this:

16 games
1,900 yards rushing
82 receptions for 790 yards
2,691 yards from scrimmage
28 touchdowns

Amazing as those numbers look, I believe he might have done even better than that. He had a real shot a 2,000 yards rushing, 800 yards receiving and 30 touchdowns. He was that good and the Chiefs offensive line was that good. He could do more or less anything he wanted back then.

In 2003, he was not quite the same -- he was never quite the same after the hip injury, I don't think -- but he still set an NFL record with 27 rushing touchdowns, and he had 2,110 yards from scrimmage and he was a fantasy football monster.

In 2004, he again was not quite the same. And he got hurt. But even so, in a half season -- eight games -- he rushed for 892 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. So ... double up those numbers ... yeah, not bad. In 38 games from 2002-2004, Priest Holmes scored 66 touchdowns. SIXTY-SIX TOUCHDOWNS. That looks like a misprint. But it was very real. It's impossible to separate what Holmes did from the brilliance of that Chiefs offensive line and passing attack, but if that Chiefs offense was The Godfather, then Holmes was Brando.

And for whatever reason, we connected. Maybe it was the chess matches we played -- we used to play every week. Or maybe we just sort of understood each other. Priest was never easy for most reporters. Heck, he wasn't easy for me. After most games, Priest would announce he wasn't talking to the media. But it was understood that I would sort of stand around after the game for an hour or an hour and a half, however long it took, waiting for him to finish getting his body and mind recovered from the game.* And then we would go over the game, talk about various things. It became ritual. And Priest Holmes, like many great athletes, believed in ritual.

*Football took a terrible toll on Priest Holmes. I guess it does on most football players, but I saw it firsthand with Priest. He would have to enter another world emotionally and physically to take on the violence and fury of the NFL. Priest is about my height. He wasn't especially fast -- he went undrafted even though he played at the University of Texas. He wasn't an especially overpowering runner. He was a great running back because of his extreme preparation (I suspect no running in the history of the NFL read blockers better or was more precise about steps than Priest Holmes) and because of his extreme will.

Anyway, I've never had quite that sort of relationship with any other elite athlete ... I'm still not entirely sure how it happened with Priest. And because of that relationship, I did not have much interest in Larry Johnson when the Kansas City Chiefs shocked everyone by drafting him in 2003. Nobody really understood the pick at the time. The Chiefs desperately needed defensive help ... they had led the NFL in points scored in 2002, and they still finished 8-8. That defense was some kind of awful. The official explanation for the Larry Johnson pick was that the Chiefs were worried about the health of Priest Holmes -- and they had every right to be worried. The official explanation was that Larry Johnson was simply too good a value to pass up with the 27th pick*. The official explanation was not the whole truth, of course. It seems to be that Chiefs president Carl Peterson had fallen in love with Johnson's talents and, against the wishes of head coach Dick Vermeil, he took L.J. with the pick.

*The Chiefs actually had the 16th pick in the draft but, not seeing a defensive player who fit their eye, they traded down to 27. That would not be worth a side-note except Pittsburgh is the team that traded up to 16 ... and with that pick they took safety Troy Polamalu, one of the most dominating defensive players in the NFL.

I don't think it's revisionist history to say that Larry Johnson looked awful in his first camp. I remember it being the talk of camp at the time. He looked plodding and slow and like he could think of about 237 places he would rather be. He also fumbled a bit. He was angry then, legitimately angry, and the reasons were easy to understand. He did not get a real chance to play in college until his senior year. And he should have won the Heisman Trophy that senior year ... he rushed for more than 2,000 yards, scored 29 touchdowns, and averaged 7.8 yards per carry. He was actually averaging eight yards per carry -- EIGHT YARDS PER CARRY -- going into the bowl game. He finished third in the voting behind Carson Palmer and Brad Banks.

And then, he had these big NFL dreams -- Johnson is a student of NFL history -- and he ended up getting drafted by a team that already had Priest Holmes coming off one of the great running back seasons ever. Yes, he was very angry, and he brooded constantly, and his coaches and teammates were annoyed by him. He wanted the ball. He only carried the ball 20 times his rookie season.

In 2004, though, Priest Holmes got hurt. Believe it or not, Larry Johnson was not next up ... a running back named Derrick Blaylock became the starter (and he had a 186-yard rushing game -- man oh man was that a good offensive line). But Blaylock got hurt, and Larry Johnson got a chance to carry the ball. He was amazing. The Chiefs had one of the great offensive lines in the history of the NFL then (anchored by future Hall of Famers Will Shields and Willie Roaf and soon-to-be Pro Bowler Brian Waters) and Larry Johnson scored 10 touchdowns in his final five games -- three of them were runs of 32 yards or more. He was clearly lacking various other skills -- he was close-to-useless as a pass blocker and he was a limited receiver. And with Priest Holmes more or less filling up my time, I didn't really take much notice of Johnson except to notice that, damn, he ran hard.

And then there's 2005 -- and that's the year when everything crescendoed for Larry Johnson. Anger met opportunity, all behind a breathtakingly good offensive line. It was awe inspiring. Johnson started nine games in 2005 -- and he ran for 100 yards in all nine. He rushed for 1,351 yards and scored 17 touchdowns in those nine games. He ran for 211 yards against Houston, scored three touchdowns against Dallas, broke off touchdown runs of 49, 14 and 20 yards against Cincinnati. The line was so good that he was regularly able to break though the first line of defense, and then he would unleash ... he would run over linebackers and defensive backs ... damn, he ran hard. I wrote a column that year comparing him to Jim Brown, and heard from some people who were infuriated by the comparison though I should also say I heard from two of Jim Brown's former teammates who thought the comparison was just right. "Same guy," one of those ex-teammates wrote.

In 2006, Herm Edwards became head coach of the Chiefs ... and things changed. For one thing, Willie Roaf -- who is probably the greatest offensive tackle I ever saw up close -- retired. For another, Trent Green, the Chiefs prolific quarterback, suffered a concussion in the first game. And third, Edwards wanted to change the basic structure of the Chiefs. The team had scored a bunch of points from 2002-2005 -- more than any team in the NFL by a pretty substantial margin -- but they had only made the playoffs once, and they lost that playoff game. Edwards believed the team wasn't tough enough. He wanted to refocus the team's persona. The Chiefs were now about Larry Johnson.

Something changed at that point. Roy Williams, when asked why his assistant coach Matt Doherty flamed out as head coach at North Carolina, shrugged and said: "Those 18 inches can be pretty wide." He was referring to the 18-inch gap between the head coach's chair and the chair of the No. 1 assistant coach. It seems to me now -- and yes, I appreciate that this is a lot of pop psychology -- that Larry Johnson was built to be the outsider. He thrived on proving people wrong. He thrived on feeling under-appreciated and mistreated and unloved. He could be charming and funny and smart (he once came out for a Herm Edwards press conference and did a dead-on Herm impression to the shock of the media), but you always got the impression that he wanted to hide that side of himself. He seemed to feel like that side of himself wasn't real.

And so, he played the angry young man ... and it all made sense when he had reasons to be angry. But then, suddenly, he was an NFL star. He was famous. He was successful. He had a coach who didn't just like him but built an entire team around him (in 2006, Larry Johnson got 416 carries ... an NFL record). And suddenly, the angry act didn't make much sense to anyone, least of all to L.J. What did he have to be angry about? Nobody knew. Only he stayed angry. He was arrested for assault for waving a gun in his girlfriend's face. Charges were dropped. He was arrested again, this time for allegedly pushing his girlfriend to the ground. Charges were dropped. Daily Larry Johnson rumors emerged around town. In 2008, he was arrested two more times for assault --once for pushing a woman in a night club and a second time for spitting a drink in a woman's face. Off the field he was out of control.

And on the field? In 2006, when he was getting 25 to 30 carries every single game, he still ran with purpose and talent. He ran for 1,789 yards, scored 19 touchdowns, was one of the stars of the league even if the offensive line wasn't nearly as good. But, yes, something did seem missing. He yards per carry average dropped a yard. His enthusiasm for contact, his sporting rage, his ability to gain two or three extra yards without people seeming to notice, it all seemed to be withering. He ran for only 32 yards in the playoff game against Indianapolis and afterward bitched about the Chiefs offense trying to run the ball against a defense that knew it was it coming. It seemed wrong -- Larry Johnson suddenly didn't want the ball so much.

What followed is pretty typical NFL stuff. Johnson wanted a lucrative new contract even though his first contract had not expired. The Chiefs gave it to him even though they were well aware that NFL running backs who run the ball more than 400 times in a season are usually used up. Will Shields retired, leaving that once great offensive line in tatters. And Larry Johnson diminished before our very eyes. You could blame it on a thousand things, and any one of those could be right. Maybe his brilliant early performance was simply due to a great offensive line and a multiple offense. Maybe the 400 carries in a season finished him. Maybe injuries were the key. Maybe he simply lost control of himself and his life. Or maybe a talent like Larry Johnson is temporary, a flash across the sky. Maybe nobody can run that angry for very long.

Whatever the reasons, Larry Johnson averaged 3.5 yards per carry in 2007 and got hurt. He ran for 874 yards in a bleak 2008 season overwhelmed by off-the-field incidents. And this year, he averages 2.7 yards per carry and has not scored a single touchdown. Larry Johnson will turn 30 years old in mid-November. The general feeling in Kansas City and around the NFL is that he's done as a good NFL back. Maybe the fact everyone doubts him again will reignite him. Then again, maybe not.

And I can't help but feel sad for him. I like him in a strange way ... maybe because I have seen a little bit of that side he doesn't like showing people. Also I loved watching him play football.

The Larry Johnson Tweet that tops this post is gone from his account now ... I assume he removed it along with various other angry things he wrote last night after the Chiefs humiliating loss to San Diego. A few of the angry comments he wrote to fans are still up, though, if you want to see those ... sort of the vapor trail of his Twitter rage. People have asked me why he would just go off on Twitter like he did, but I think I understand. Anger helped make Larry Johnson into a breathtakingly good NFL running back. Anger helped make him famous and successful and rich. Anger helped him fulfill the dreams he had been having since he was a child.

The trouble is, at some point, all those other things faded away. He's not a breathtakingly good running back now. He's not especially famous, not particularly successful, and being rich -- assuming he has been smart with his money -- isn't enough. This is the the sad thing about Larry Johnson. All he's left with is the anger.

Count Zarth
10-26-2009, 05:22 PM
JoPo mailed that in. We don't need a history lesson.

Yawn.

Micjones
10-26-2009, 05:25 PM
Makes me realize how much I miss Priest Holmes.
Probably my favorite Chief of all-time.

'Hamas' Jenkins
10-26-2009, 05:25 PM
Fantastic article.

Thinking about Priest still makes me smile. My favorite Chief of all time.

'Hamas' Jenkins
10-26-2009, 05:26 PM
Makes me realize how much I miss Priest Holmes.
Probably my favorite Chief of all-time.

LMAO

burt
10-26-2009, 05:27 PM
JoPo mailed that in. We don't need a history lesson.

Yawn.

Damn....I agree with Clathan.......

dirk digler
10-26-2009, 05:27 PM
Damn I miss JoPo. There is no better writer in the country than that guy.

Short Leash Hootie
10-26-2009, 05:29 PM
Fantastic article.

Thinking about Priest still makes me smile. My favorite Chief of all time.

I liked Priest...but if it wasn't for Vermeil, that offense, the Roaf trade and Trent Green...I have a feeling Priest wouldn't have been nearly as relevant as he ended up being.

dirk digler
10-26-2009, 05:30 PM
JoPo mailed that in. We don't need a history lesson.

Yawn.

Sounds like you are jealous

Ari Chi3fs
10-26-2009, 05:31 PM
Good article... way better than WIPE crap... heh.

'Hamas' Jenkins
10-26-2009, 05:31 PM
I liked Priest...but if it wasn't for Vermeil, that offense, the Roaf trade and Trent Green...I have a feeling Priest wouldn't have been nearly as relevant as he ended up being.

Priest Holmes ran for 1500+ yards with Jon Tait as his LT and Trent Green throwing 24 picks.

He's the best back in the history of this franchise, bar none, even if he wasn't the most talented.

Count Zarth
10-26-2009, 05:31 PM
Sounds like you are jealous

I think everyone here should be jealous of JoPo. Doesn't change my opinion of what he wrote. Whitlock has been more insightful recently.

Short Leash Hootie
10-26-2009, 05:32 PM
Priest Holmes ran for 1500+ yards with Jon Tait as his LT and Trent Green throwing 24 picks.

He's the best back in the history of this franchise, bar none, even if he wasn't the most talented.

Won't disagree with that...

Before his hip injury he was Marshall Faulk-esque.

the Talking Can
10-26-2009, 05:33 PM
JoPo mailed that in. We don't need a history lesson.

Yawn.



LMAO


he didn't write it for you, you clueless dumbass...he wrote it for a national audience, an audience that doesn't know the history of a shitty franchise, an audience not composed of bitter faux-journalists....


and it is an excellent summation

dirk digler
10-26-2009, 05:34 PM
I think everyone here should be jealous of JoPo. Doesn't change my opinion of what he wrote. Whitlock has been more insightful recently.

Whitlock's column today was very good but that is the only good one he has had all year. JoPo writes a good one every week.

wild1
10-26-2009, 05:35 PM
JoPo mailed that in. We don't need a history lesson.

Yawn.

This is like Tyler Thigpen criticizing Joe Montana.

Rain Man
10-26-2009, 05:35 PM
He mentioned the greatness of the offensive line eight times.

Pablo
10-26-2009, 05:36 PM
He mentioned the greatness of the offensive line eight times.And deservedly so. That line was a thing of beauty.

'Hamas' Jenkins
10-26-2009, 05:36 PM
He mentioned the greatness of the offensive line eight times.

It was a great offensive line. No one has ever doubted that.

Count Zarth
10-26-2009, 05:36 PM
Whitlock's column today was very good but that is the only good one he has had all year. JoPo writes a good one every week.

Bullshit.

Reaper16
10-26-2009, 05:38 PM
JoPo mailed that in. We don't need a history lesson.

Yawn.

Damn....I agree with Clathan.......
Its a Sports Illustrated article, not a column for the Star.

JASONSAUTO
10-26-2009, 05:39 PM
He mentioned the greatness of the offensive line eight times.

probably to reiterate how bad it is now....

Saccopoo
10-26-2009, 05:40 PM
Priest was one of the best running back I've ever seen. His patience and intelligence was remarkable. His initial burst was amazing.

Sure, it helped that he ran behind Roaf, Waters, Weigmann, Shields and Tait. (IMO, the best offensive line ever assembled.) But to watch him run was a thing of beauty. And he blocked. And he caught passes. He was smooth, but with power. A combination of Gayle Sayers and Marshall Faulk, whose career, like Sayers, was cut short by injury.

It seems to be that Chiefs president Carl Peterson had fallen in love with Johnson's talents and, against the wishes of head coach Dick Vermeil, he took L.J. with the pick.

As I said in another thread, it's hard to blame Vermeil and Herm in entirety for the situation that the Chiefs are now in. Carl was the one constant, and had a lot more control over the draft than the coaches did.

Dante84
10-26-2009, 05:40 PM
Thats because he doesn't write for the star anymore, and he isn't writing to just Chief fans. It was insight for outsiders. I think it was a good article.

RINGLEADER
10-26-2009, 06:00 PM
Makes me realize how much I miss Priest Holmes.
Probably my favorite Chief of all-time.

Agree. He was great. I'll never forget that first screen pass to him, when no one really knew what we had, that was just inches away from his fingertips. If he catches it he goes to the endzone and maybe starts his trek towards becoming the dominant runner he was a little earlier (instead of waiting for Dick Vermeil and Carl Peterson to realize what they had).

2bikemike
10-26-2009, 06:03 PM
This was a typical JO PO article. I always liked the way he writes. Most of the writers now are just looking to stir up a bunch of crap. Throw some shit at the wall and see what sticks.

The Bad Guy
10-26-2009, 06:07 PM
Fantastic article.

Thinking about Priest still makes me smile. My favorite Chief of all time.

Those 2003 numbers were insane. I just can't believe we had an offense like that after watching this shit the last 4 years.

booger
10-26-2009, 06:11 PM
JoPo mailed that in. We don't need a history lesson.

Yawn.

a smart man once said "Don't wipe away those tears young lad, wear them as badges of honor"

So

wear them as badges of honor.

Larry would have wanted it that way.

2bikemike
10-26-2009, 06:21 PM
As I said in another thread, it's hard to blame Vermeil and Herm in entirety for the situation that the Chiefs are now in. Carl was the one constant, and had a lot more control over the draft than the coaches did.

I agree not that the Head Coaches are completely exonerated, but Carl by far had the bigger hand in it. They let that awsome line get old and never addressed it properly. We are still struggling with it today.

The real sad thing is that while they let the O-line deteriorate they spent tons of money and draft picks on the defense. And the Defense still sucks. The last few years the HMFIC have really screwed the pooch on talent evalutation and selection. It will take a long time to get this team competitive it is that devoid of talent.

TheGuardian
10-26-2009, 06:24 PM
All this article made me do is miss Priest Holmes.

Wait is that an echo?

booger
10-26-2009, 06:26 PM
All this article made me do is miss Priest Holmes.

Wait is that an echo?

either that or you yelled it into a really large vagina

KCDC
10-26-2009, 06:33 PM
I miss Priest and JoPo. I really miss that old offensive line even more.

Fruit Ninja
10-26-2009, 06:44 PM
I miss Priest. He was fucking awesome. I loved how he was patient let the blockers set up then he knew exactly where to go and bam, gained another 10-15 yards. Dude had amazing field vision. He wasnt the fastest guy, but he was one of the quickest running backs ever. Dude's shiftiness was insane. I loved watching him hold on to Richardson's jersey.

Deberg_1990
10-26-2009, 06:59 PM
I miss Priest and JoPo.

Honestly,

I never really liked all those old "Priest and JoPo play chess, then diddle each other off" columns. BOOOORRRIIINNNGGG.

alanm
10-26-2009, 07:08 PM
JoPo mailed that in. We don't need a history lesson.

Yawn.You're hardly in a position to critique Jo Po. It smacks of envy. :shake:

alanm
10-26-2009, 07:10 PM
I think everyone here should be jealous of JoPo. Doesn't change my opinion of what he wrote. Whitlock has been more insightful recently.Really? I apparently missed it.

Chiefnj2
10-26-2009, 07:22 PM
"a running back named Derrick Blaylock became the starter (and he had a 186-yard rushing game -- man oh man was that a good offensive line)."

Should be "that was a great offensive line."

Count Zarth
10-26-2009, 07:29 PM
You're hardly in a position to critique Jo Po.

Sure I am. I'm a reader.

Just because we're both highly paid NFL writers doesn't mean I can't offer up a critique.

NewChief
10-26-2009, 07:32 PM
JoPo mailed that in. We don't need a history lesson.

Yawn.

GTFO, dude. He used history and context to peer into LJ's soul. That was awesome. Might have run a little long-winded about his mancrush on Priest, but his analysis of LJ was both piercing and poetic.

alanm
10-26-2009, 07:43 PM
I agree not that the Head Coaches are completely exonerated, but Carl by far had the bigger hand in it. They let that awsome line get old and never addressed it properly. We are still struggling with it today.

The real sad thing is that while they let the O-line deteriorate they spent tons of money and draft picks on the defense. And the Defense still sucks. The last few years the HMFIC have really screwed the pooch on talent evalutation and selection. It will take a long time to get this team competitive it is that devoid of talent.A lot of that falls on the DC. And we really haven't had a good one in a long time. Maybe back to Cowher. A lot of our draft picks fall on Peterson. I trust a coaches pick more often over a ego maniac gm. Even though CP was a coach at one time. But the Oline was overlooked all through this decade. Even though the Chiefs have drafted quite a few, none have really panned out. Cept for Waters and he was a castoff from the Cowboys and played defense at the time. And he even seems to be declining as of lately. Hell for a lineman he's actually in the middle of him prime. Either that or he's not motivated enough.

Demonpenz
10-26-2009, 07:56 PM
if that o line was soo good why did they give up sacks at the end of the game to 3 damn rushers all the time

Demonpenz
10-26-2009, 07:56 PM
also no mention of TRICH!

Count Zarth
10-26-2009, 07:58 PM
if that o line was soo good why did they give up sacks at the end of the game to 3 damn rushers all the time

You're quite a maestro sometimes.

KC Jones
10-26-2009, 08:45 PM
JoPo mailed that in. We don't need a history lesson.

Yawn.

Don't be a dumbass - he's writing to a national audience. That's sports illustrated not the KC star.

KCBOSS1
10-26-2009, 09:11 PM
JoPo mailed that in. We don't need a history lesson.

Yawn.

Speak for yourself. Stop saying we. If you don't need the history lesson, go to the next thread. It's nice to read something with some actual content on here for a change. It's what I don't get about the planet. Somebody will waste 47 posts insulting the thread they're posting on. I guess it's just to increase their post tally.

I appreciate the post.

Bunit
10-26-2009, 09:35 PM
LMAO


he didn't write it for you, you clueless dumbass...he wrote it for a national audience, an audience that doesn't know the history of a shitty franchise, an audience not composed of bitter faux-journalists....


and it is an excellent summation

this

Chiefs=Good
10-26-2009, 09:51 PM
Great article.. Man how i miss Priest, Shields and Big Willie. :(

jidar
10-26-2009, 10:11 PM
JoPo mailed that in. We don't need a history lesson.

Yawn.

You're never going to be a good writer if you look at that article and that's all you took from it.

soundmind
10-26-2009, 10:33 PM
Hard not to miss Roaf and Shields after that read. Those two were good enough to make those around them pro-bowlers. They were our OLine and they were that good. A shame we didn't do more with it. Good thing we took LJ instead of Troy, we didn't need those 3 superbowls in a row anyway.

Count Zarth
10-26-2009, 10:36 PM
You're never going to be a good writer if you look at that article and that's all you took from it.

I read everything JoPo writes about the Chiefs. For months now all he's done is re-hash history. Even in the Star.

He used to be a much better writer before he got fat and happy. Good for him. Bad for us.

Ari Chi3fs
10-26-2009, 11:05 PM
Sure I am. I'm a reader.

Just because we're both highly paid NFL writers doesn't mean I can't offer up a critique.

Dude, I didn't know you were cakn, patna.

smittysbar
10-26-2009, 11:43 PM
Dude, I didn't know you were cakn, patna.

:LOL:

Count Zarth
10-26-2009, 11:44 PM
Dude, I didn't know you were cakn, patna.

Get your faggot ass out of here.