Chiefs running back Larry Johnson made his mark in the NFL running for over 1750 yards in back to back seasons taking over for a injured Priest Holmes, from that point forward nobody could question that L.J. was one of the NFL’s most talented running backs but off the field issues and disputes with coaching staffs stopped him from taking the step into greatness.
Larry Johnson has also walked around K.C. with a attitude from day one some said it was a chip on his shoulder, from being a first round draft pick who had to sit behind Priest Holmes for a couple of seasons to having a coach who told him to “take the diapers off”. That is just not a accurate portrayal of the situation, Larry Johnson is a Alpha Male dominant person who only respects other dominant individuals.
So far through his career he has been coached by Dick Vermeil who is a awesome coach but when it comes to confrontation he is as soft as butter. Then L.J. was coached by Herm Edwards who in a sports illustrated poll was voted one of the most well “liked” coaches in the NFL. Not really hard nosed people, Larry Johnson is a stallion, a thoroughbred but wild and had to be broken before he could ever achieve true greatness.
Enter Todd Haley, knowing exactly what he had on this roster Haley decided to keep L.J. and trade Tony G, curious move to some but Haley knew what he was doing, he knew he needed a strong running game and for that to happen he also knew he would need L.J.
When L.J. went on 610 sports after the season proclaiming his desire to be traded and his dislike for the Kansas City community some general managers or coaches would have released such a P.R. nightmare. Not Scott Pioli and Todd Haley they knew they would have their day in court literally, shortly after the comments by L.J. the Chiefs won a arbitration case against L.J. for breach of contract stemming from yet again a off the field incident that took place under the previous regime.
The arbitration case took away a percentage of the guaranteed money promised to L.J. in his contract meaning if the Chiefs cut L.J. it would cost them nearly nothing ( Larry was planning on getting released and receiving a big payday in doing so.) and L.J. would probably have to sign for somewhere around a million dollars and a one year contract with a team and prove himself allover again.
The Chiefs after this move finally regained leverage and “broke the horse” during voluntary OTA’s there was one person who you could be guaranteed would be there L.J. but not only was he there during “voluntary” work outs after he practically vowed to never play a down in K.C. again.
He was smiling and saying all the right things a big contrast from previous years when all he had was complaints and moans. This looks like a new L.J. nobody knows if he is just respecting the almighty dollar praying he don’t get cut or if he finally has a coach, someone tougher and meaner than him that is not afraid to get in his face and scream at him when he messes up that he can respect.
The season will tell if Haley/ Pioli were able to pull of a plan that finally tamed the wild L.J. but if they did this was a major victory for the new regime.