Kansas City Star 6/24/2007
Copyright © 2007 by Ralph Couey
Larry Johnson’s frank interview with Jason Whitlock has predictably raised eyebrows, and in some cases, hackles among the Chiefs Nation. Part of the reaction has to do with the usual response that a blue collar fan base has when a perceived millionaire complains that he’s not making enough money. The other reaction has to do with Johnson’s brutal pragmatism toward the profession, or game, where he earns his keep.
Up till now, we fans have expected to hear the language of cold, calculating business emanating from the front offices. Oh, we hear the platitudes about the value of a particular player to the organization and the community, but I think we all realize that the people who run these teams at times look at their locker rooms with the same coldly appraising eye used by a cattleman eyeing his herd. Now we hear those same coldly calculating words, only it’s coming from a member of the herd.
Larry Johnson is an anomaly. There really hasn’t been anyone like him for quite some time. “He runs angry” is the description we hear most often. Although he has nice moves for a big man, he is never afraid to take on a linebacker, daring the opponent to stop him. Christian Okoye was also a big, bruising runner. But to the press and public he was always “a nice guy.” LaDanian Tomlinson is a “nice guy.” Emmit Smith was a “nice guy.” Johnson, in contrast, is the dark side of The Force. He is Darth Vader, saying, “I find your lack of faith disturbing” to coaches who suddenly feel short of breath.