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Old 06-21-2007, 10:58 PM  
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JOHNSON SEETHING OVER HIS SUCCESS - Q&A WITH LJ PART 2

For a player with such remarkable God-given talent and incredible accomplishments, Larry Johnson has never really been a football star. That was the second conclusion I reached after Johnson, his agent, Alvin Keels, and I shared lunch at the Hereford House early this week.

Thursday in The Star, during Part 1 of my Q&A with Johnson, I focused on the brewing training-camp holdout that Johnson may stage to leverage his way into a better contract. Today, weíll focus more on Johnson as a person, not a football player.

But you have to understand Johnsonís football history to understand the brooding personality that he believes makes him a great player.

He didnít catch a football break until his senior year of high school, and then he went to Penn State and got humbled by big-time football and bigger-time football politics. He rushed for 2,000 yards as a college senior and then ran into a legendary NFL coach who didnít want him.

Now, coming off back-to-back 1,700-yard rushing seasons, Johnson found himself on the trading block this offseason. According to NFL experts, the Chiefs offered Johnson to several teams. The Packers expressed the most interest but eventually balked at a draft-day deal that would have cost the Pack their first-, second- and third-round picks.

ďI think it made Larry realize how real the business side of football is in the NFL,Ē Keels said of the trade talks. ďHe saw firsthand that the Chiefs would do whatís in the best interest of the organization, so, therefore, itís made him aware that in the future he has to do whatís in the best interest of Larry Johnson.Ē

Hereís the second part of my 150-minute interview with Larry Johnson. On Sunday, Iíll offer my opinion on Johnson and his contract situation. On Thursday, a spokesman for the Chiefs said the organization had ďno commentĒ on Johnsonís statement that heís preparing for a training-camp holdout.

Question: Larry, you do understand thereís a responsibility that goes along with being the highest-paid player?

Johnson: ďMe and Herm talked about that.Ē

Question: Are you ready to accept the responsibility that goes along with being the highest-paid player?

Johnson: ďI can adjust to it because thereís nothing left for me to fight for. Thereís no sense in me fighting upstairs, no sense in me fighting coaches, ainít no sense in me fighting other things that go on. Having this contract done, my future is secure now, I can play football, be a leader, try to get this Super Bowl ring, get into the Pro Bowl a couple more times and maybe get into the Hall of Fame when my career is done. After I get this contract, thereís nothing else to worry about.Ē

Question: Youíre showing some maturity in recent months. Are you going to change again when you get your money?

Johnson: ďRegardless of whether I get this money or not, Iím going to still be me. But Iím going to do it where Iím not embarrassing myself, Iím not embarrassing my teammates and Iím not trying to look like Iím after something once I get this money. The money is going to set me up for my kids and my future. Yeah, Iím going to buy me a nice toy, a new car. And thatís it. And then Iím going to set up for my family after that. Money doesnít change me.Ē

Question: Thereís a concern that some players play with less intensity once they get a huge contract. Will that happen to you?

Johnson: ďReceivers can do that (stuff) because all they have to do is jog through some routes. I canít do that because I have 10 other guys trying to hit me and kill for me to do that. I have too much pride. Thatís embarrassing to me. At the end of the day, the media, Carl Peterson and Herm can say whatever they want to, but I gotta answer to my father. Thatís the main person Iím trying to impress. I have way too much pride for that.Ē

Question: Are you angry about something, and if so why?

Johnson: ďIím always angry about something. My dad will tell you I was a moody kid when I was growing up. Thatís just who I was ó I was a moody kid. There was always something bothering me. When I was a kid, even if we won the game, if I felt like I didnít do something right, he knew I would be upset the rest of the day. A lot of that comes from me always putting pressure on myself. I was always under that pressure as a child, and there was always that anger that was inside of me. Itís just something that canít leave for me to always want to be the best.

ďIt always comes out in the worst times and at a time when itís not appropriate. I know that part. It was just the way I was raised being in a coachís household, everybody expects you to be better than your dad growing up or be just like your dad growing up. I had to live with that when I was 9.

ďThen going to college, I had to bite my tongue on a lot of stuff because of my dad. Iím always going to be upset that I didnít get to play four years at Penn State. Iím going to be upset that I had to switch high schools to try to be recruited, to try and pass my SATs and get into college. Iím always going to be upset that when I came to Kansas City I didnít get to play. Iím always going to be upset about that.Ē

Question: You do realize thatís unhealthy?

Johnson: ďI mean, yeah. Iíve been kind of doing better with that. A lot of people are surprised to see me smile more than I used to. My life used to be: what I wanted and what I was getting were miles apart. Now itís like right here (very close). Now I can be a little more at ease about where I am.Ē

Question: OK, but I want you to understand that being angry is physically unhealthy and can affect your life expectancy.

Johnson: ďIím definitely a lot better than I was a year ago.Ē

Question: Leadership, what does it mean to you?

Johnson: ďIím not a talkative person. If anything Iíd rather be a leader by example, as far as what I do on the football field. Iíve always been a leader by example. Thatís the biggest thing to me. Guys can talk all day, but then go out there and drop 10 balls or miss six or seven blocks.Ē

Question: How come you donít block well?

Johnson: ďI have to watch three people on every pass play. Thatís why when T. Rich was here they started taking me out on third downs, because I have to watch three people on every single pass play. When you look at San Diego, you barely see LaDainian Tomlinson pass-block. I can pass-block. Sometimes Iím going to mess up. DBs, I can block all day. Linebackers, thatís a different breed of animal. I can cut-block íem.

ďReally this (stuff) came from Dick Vermeil. When I first got into camp, he said the reason we donít play him is because of my blocking. That stuck with me from then to all the way up to that Dallas Cowboys game when I ó first time I ever tried to cut ó tried to cut (Scott) Fujita. I tried to cut him on his wrong side. I tried to cut him with my left shoulder and all he had to do was sweep around me. I had bad technique, and Trent coughed the ball up. But nobody said nothing the same year when I had to block Shawne Merriman 100 times in a row, and he never once got to the quarterback.Ē

Question: Explain your relationship with rapper Jay-Z.

Johnson: ďA lot of people donít know that goes beyond me just wearing his clothes. I could switch to Nike tomorrow and Jay would be completely cool with it. There are only a couple of athletes Jay-Z was cool enough to let in his little small circle of people that he calls friends. Itís me, LeBron and thatís about it. Itís a real tight group. It goes beyond me just wearing clothes. Weíve become friends now. If I wanted to do Nike or Reebok or anything else, he would have input, but he would never say ĎOK, I canít (mess) with you no more because of that.í Heís never been that way. We just happened to hit it off.Ē

Question: How does your association with Jay-Z affect your vision of how you see yourself as an athlete and an individual?

Johnson: ďI donít think it really affects me other than the fact I just know him. If anything when people mention me, of course, they mention him.Ē

Question: Is Jay-Z a mentor, someone who shapes your view on how to conduct business?

Johnson: ďHe definitely did that. Between me and you, he definitely didnít want me to do that Fantasia video. I definitely got cussed out for that one. He told me there were a lot of things he wanted to do, but he couldnít do them. He said, ĎYou gotta be able to look at yourself as a business, as stock, and the less things you do, the more people will have interest in you. The more things you do, you water down your value.í Ē

Question: What do you want to accomplish as a football player?

Johnson: ďIím not a numbers guy. Iím not trying to rush for 2,000 yards or score so many touchdowns. My whole thing when I started playing football is to try and bring the old-school-mentality guys back. When people mention me, I want them to mention Jim Brown, Eric Dickerson, Walter Payton, Gale Sayers. Thatís what I really play football for is the fun of that. I donít really do it to be the richest, how many rushing yards I can get. Iíd like to be mentioned with that group of guys.Ē

Question: What characteristics do the old-school running backs have that you respect?

Johnson: ďJim Brown was a player who didnít take (stuff). Those guys really lived when racism was really around. Jim Brown stood up for Muhammad Ali. Thatís what I like about old-school guys. You donít see that anymore. They really stood up and did what they wanted to do.Ē

Question: What does Larry Johnson stand for?

Johnson: ďI just stand up for people who want to be themselves. If you see something wrong, donít be afraid to stand up and point them out. A lot of guys see whatís wrong, but they donít say anything about it. People who stand up turn out to be the greatest people in this country ó Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, guys who stood up for what they believed in.Ē

Question: Do you feel like youíre a part of anything bigger than just Larry Johnson?

Johnson: ďNot right now. I donít have that status to do something like that. Itíll take me a couple of more years, but I really want to point out the undercover racism that is everywhere.

ďAnd I really like to help young black kids who really think itís cool to look up to certain rappers because they think itís cool at that time. They think itís cool that they canít put on a suit and tie. They think itís corny to look nice. They canít go to school without having a white T down to their knees. Thatís what Iím really trying to fight as far as that image that they canít dress up. Itís really black youths fighting ourselves. You know, when youíre a kid, be a kid. But when youíre 27 and you still wearing a white T and baggy pants, what does that say about your life and where youíre headed?Ē

SECOND OF TWO PARTS. FOLLOW-UP IS SUNDAY
This is the second of two parts of Jason Whitlockís question-and-answer session with Chiefs running back Larry Johnson. Whitlock will offer his opinion on the interview in TheStar on Sunday.
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Old 06-21-2007, 11:05 PM   #2
Douche Baggins Douche Baggins is offline
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Quote:
But nobody said nothing the same year when I had to block Shawne Merriman 100 times in a row, and he never once got to the quarterback.Ē
Booyah, LJ. Booyah. You go, boy. SLAY 'EM.
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Old 06-21-2007, 11:09 PM   #3
Douche Baggins Douche Baggins is offline
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ďHe definitely did that. Between me and you, he definitely didnít want me to do that Fantasia video. I definitely got cussed out for that one."
Jay-Z...respec.....
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Old 06-21-2007, 11:11 PM   #4
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Eesh.

That 1st round, 2nd round, and 3rd round pick looks pretty sexy after interviews like this.
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Old 06-21-2007, 11:11 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by GoChiefs
Booyah, LJ. Booyah. You go, boy. SLAY 'EM.
Yeah, no one doesnt talk about that. haha. I like the way LJ thinks.
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Old 06-21-2007, 11:13 PM   #6
Douche Baggins Douche Baggins is offline
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Originally Posted by Direckshun
Eesh.

That 1st round, 2nd round, and 3rd round pick looks pretty sexy after interviews like this.
STFU. LJ didn't say anything controversial at all.
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Old 06-21-2007, 11:14 PM   #7
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Best Whitlock interview ever.
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Old 06-21-2007, 11:14 PM   #8
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Jwhit needs to post on this thread, so i can rep him.
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Old 06-21-2007, 11:16 PM   #9
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ďThen going to college, I had to bite my tongue on a lot of stuff because of my dad. Iím always going to be upset that I didnít get to play four years at Penn State. Iím going to be upset that I had to switch high schools to try to be recruited, to try and pass my SATs and get into college. Iím always going to be upset that when I came to Kansas City I didnít get to play. Iím always going to be upset about that.Ē


That's a candid response. I can appreciate the honesty, he isn't bullshitting anyone.

And I believe this: "ďReceivers can do that (stuff) because all they have to do is jog through some routes. I canít do that because I have 10 other guys trying to hit me and kill for me to do that. I have too much pride. Thatís embarrassing to me."

I think there is 0 chance that he would coast after signing the contract.
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Old 06-21-2007, 11:17 PM   #10
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that's about as candid as I've heard an athlete in a long while..
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Old 06-21-2007, 11:18 PM   #11
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I guess I don't understand the three guys on every pass play thing. How does he know what Tomlinson's assignments are, anyway?
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Old 06-21-2007, 11:18 PM   #12
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That's pretty funny about the Fantasia video. I like his attitude in these interviews...seems like he's willing to talk about his mistakes and faults along with the reasons he should be paid more.
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Old 06-21-2007, 11:22 PM   #13
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It was a candid interview, you have to give Big Fat Rolls of Fattening Piles of Fatlock credit.

But I don't like the blame game he's playing on some of those issues, justified or not. I don't like the assumption that it's his eventual destiny to speak out on racism, because I don't think he has the political acumen to pull that off. And I don't like that he's imagines a growing importance in petty and superficial things like music videos and clothes.

And if the Packers approached me and offered me a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd for him (Hell, if they just offered me a 1st and a 2nd), my trigger finger would get far itchier than before.
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Old 06-21-2007, 11:22 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by GoChiefs
ďHe saw firsthand that the Chiefs would do whatís in the best interest of the organization, so, therefore, itís made him aware that in the future he has to do whatís in the best interest of Larry Johnson.Ē
A lesson well learned, Mr. Johnson. It's past time to get paid for the job you're already doing.
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Old 06-21-2007, 11:24 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Direckshun

And if the Packers approached me and offered me a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd for him (Hell, if they just offered me a 1st and a 2nd), my trigger finger would get far itchier than before.
The whole Packers thing was bullshit anyway.
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