Fears of character issues among Bengal players resurfaced this week with the signing of Tank Johnson and Leon Hall’s DUI charge.
Driving under the influence is going to happen to the best of us as long as people transport themselves to places where alcohol is served. No one (sober) would tell you that driving drunk is ever a good idea, but almost everyone who drinks and has a car has at one time has pushed their legal limits. Leon Hall may not have considered himself all that drunk, but he acted on an illegal impulse and it cost him. It doesn’t make him villain or a scourge on the team, it makes him a young guy who learned a tough lesson the hard way; stuff happens.
Tank Johnson, on the other hand, has a history that sounds more like a mobster than a defensive tackle: arrested on two separate guns charges (one of which police discovered two assault rifles and four other firearms in his home), fighting with police and getting maced, employing a body guard who was later murdered – this guy sounds scary! Gun crime is unacceptable and the league should show more intolerance on the issue.
But as a player, Tank’s not a bad signing: he signed at the minimum, he’s only 27, he played all year last year with the Cowboys, he adds depth to the tackle rotation and he’s comfortable with the way Zimmer plans on using him. If he reverts to his gangster-rapper lifestyle, the Bengals can cut him without any financial repercussion – only some PR repercussion, which seems damaged beyond repair anyway.
The way a fan looks at character issues is really an evaluation of that person’s priorities. What’s more important, winning games or safer communities? If you’re concerned that the Bengals are bringing in a man who is lethally dangerous to the Cincinnati area, you have a good point. Then again, if you were worried about having only two decent defensive tackles on the team, then you got what you wanted.
In all honesty, Tank should probably not be allowed to play in the NFL. But if he’s going to, it may as well be here. I just hope nobody gets hurt in the process.
How interesting that it’s Leon Hall who was arrested, yet it’s Tank Johnson that invokes more fear by merely joining the team. This is why fans should try to look at legal incidents involving players on a case-by-case basis, and not group all infractions as the same type of problem for the team.
Mojokong – you can have a gun, but if you break the law in any way with your gun, the state should throw the book at you every time. No leniency on gun crime.