Thursday, October 29, 2009
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Chiefs suspend RB Larry Johnson

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[October 29, 2009]  KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson, who made two gay slurs within a 24-hour period, was given what amounts to a one-game suspension Wednesday night, but Johnson's agent said he would appeal.

Agent Peter Schaffer said the game check and other lost revenue would amount to about a penalty of about $600,000 for the former two-time Pro Bowl player.

In a three-sentence release, the Chiefs said Johnson would be suspended until Monday, Nov. 9 for conduct detrimental to the team. The Chiefs are on their bye week and will not play again until traveling to Jacksonville on Nov. 8.

The Chiefs had been saying for three days that they were "investigating" the situation. Johnson was told to stay away from the team on Tuesday.


Schaffer said he had consulted with the Players Association about the appeal.

"We will be filing an appeal on behalf of Larry tomorrow," Schaffer told The Associated Press. "While we respect the Chiefs' ability to try to discipline a player, we disagree and respectfully disagree that the punishment they propose is warranted by the facts or allowable by the collective bargaining agreement. Hopefully, we will be able to work out a mutual and positive resolution with the Chiefs short of a hearing. If we don't, then this will go to an arbitrator."

Schaffer said they would try to expedite the matter and get a resolution before the team's next game on Nov. 8.

In 2007, Johnson signed a five-year contract extension that guaranteed him about $19 million and could be worth as much as $45 million. But because of these latest problems, his future with the Chiefs beyond Nov. 8 may still be cloudy.

Coach Todd Haley and first-year general manager Scott Pioli have repeatedly said they are trying to build a new culture and a new attitude for a struggling franchise, which has sunk to the bottom of the NFL and that disloyalty will not be tolerated.

Johnson, who needs just 75 yards rushing to break the team's career record, first used the gay slur on his Twitter account in an exchange with one of his followers on Sunday night. Earlier he had posted comments calling Haley's qualifications into question.

Then in a whispered remark on Monday after telling reporters in the locker room he was not talking, Johnson repeated the slur, according to the Kansas City Star which has posted audio of the alleged comment.

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The three-sentence news release issued Wednesday night by the team said only that Johnson, who turns 30 in a few weeks, was suspended for conduct detrimental to the club. The Chiefs said they would have no further comment on Johnson's status "at this time."

Johnson wrote the objectionable material on his Twitter account several hours after the Chiefs (1-6) lost 37-7 to San Diego, one of their most lopsided home losses ever.

Johnson issued an apology on Tuesday, almost exactly 12 months after apologizing to the team and its fans and ownership for two incidents in Kansas City nightspots that led to his pleading guilty to disturbing the peace.

Those problems caused him to be benched for three games in 2008 and suspended by commissioner Roger Goodell for an additional game.

Johnson was one of the best running backs in the NFL in 2005 and '06, running for more than 1,700 yards each season and earning Pro Bowl honors. But this season, like the Chiefs, he has struggled.

[Associated Press; By DOUG TUCKER]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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