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ES: Getting to know Larry Johnson


themurf

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(photo by Brian Murphy)

Our parents told us a long, long time ago that we should never judge a book by its proverbial cover.

And yet, there we were, criticizing the Washington Redskins for bringing in running back Larry Johnson before even taking the time to try and get to know the young man.

Well, we decided to try and rectify the situation by chatting with Johnson this week, if for no other reason than to get a better feel for someone who could very well be a central figure on our favorite football team this season.

While we didn’t necessarily have any expectations heading into the interview, we clearly walked away with a different opinion after spending some time with the 30-year-old. The same guy who came across as childish and immature when he called out his head coach on Twitter seems much more humble and hungry these days. If this is the Larry Johnson that the Redskins will see day in and day out, then it’s not impossible to believe he could be around a while. See for yourself.

How is the transition coming along as you adjust to your new team?

“It’s going really good,” Johnson said. “Everything, as far as moving and getting all my stuff here and learning a new city, a new town, it’s actually been easier than any other place I’ve been in. Everywhere I go, even when I’m out eating dinner, people are all telling me how happy there are to have me here. I really take that to heart because I’ve been in some cities where they didn’t want me there.”

On a personal level, this place holds a special meaning because your father played here, right?

“Definitely. And having family members all throughout Virginia, Maryland and the D.C. area makes it even more special,” he said. “It makes everything that much more fun because I didn’t have that kind of support in Kansas City. I was pretty much all by myself there, so it’s been really good to have all kinds of nephews and uncles and stuff around here.”

That’s one of the most overlooked aspects of professional sports. Young men are pulled away from college, where they’ve typically got their family and a certain level of comfort, and they can end up on the other side of the country in a place they’d never even think to visit if the circumstances were different. Are we wrong in thinking that there can be a pretty drastic adjustment period as a kid is asked to grow up essentially overnight?

“Absolutely, that’s true,” he said. “There’s a lot that you have to adjust to being by yourself, like the first time you have to pay a mortgage. It’s not like in college, where you just have to pay for meals, so it was definitely an adjustment. But coming here, it’s been easy. Just show me where to live and let’s go get started. It’s been that easy and it’s been fun, and knowing Coach [Mike] Shanahan’s history and reputation makes it even more exciting to be here.”

You mentioned Kansas City, but we’re curious how you look back on your time last season in Cincinnati.

“It was fun, but it was very brief,” Johnson said. “I wish I could have stayed with those guys a little bit longer and actually gotten to know them a little bit better than I did in those six or seven games. The entire experience was enjoyable and being in a playoff game and seeing those guys finally take it to the new level was very cool.”

As an outsider, it looked like you went there and kind of got your mojo back. It seems you were able to put all the off-field stuff to the side and turn your focus to simply playing football. Is that how you see it?

“It was making the best out of a bad situation,” he said. “Being able to go to a new city and having the coach there welcome me with open arms let me just go out there and play football. I had a chance to just go out and demonstrate what I could do, so I was thankful for that.”

Football isn’t played in shorts and a lot can happen between now and the season opener, but you really look comfortable out there these days.

Click here for the full article.

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"There’s nothing wrong with having three backs going out there and pounding away because that’s what this offense is about.”

This is the one sentence in that article that excites me the most. I think we are going to see a very balanced attack (I hope 550+ carries combined for the RBs) which is something that greatly aided the aging Elway in Denver, and something I think should have a similar positive effect on the aging McNabb. Not to mention a strong, ball-control running game for the first time in his career.

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"Allegedly, Johnson’s girlfriend spotted him with another woman and confronted her, at which point Larry grabbed and shoved his girlfriend to the ground. According to the report, Johnson turned himself in"

Look, I'm not saying these guys live lives that are the measure of virtue but if this is the incident you're talking about, this is not 'beating' or 'like/enjoy' beating anyone.

Have any of you guys dealt with any women or seen your friends deal with a woman (or vice versa, guys who are nuts about a woman or upset) and not seen what they do? For all I know the "confrontation" the girlfriend had in mind for the girl he was with was to beat her ass. If he grabbed her and shoved her to the ground, that isn't some crime against humanity. Women are people too and putting aside any judgment on Johnson, one way or another, we have these sacred lines that don't make sense in a society that encourages people to kick men in the balls, portrays them as bumbling idiots in media and commercials, as rapists and abusers in media campaigns on college campuses, etc.

Sorry, we should be fair and at least research these incidents and describe them, before we go and call someone a 'woman-beater' because they made physical contact with a woman. If any human being steps out of pocket, I'm not so sure why they should expect not to be rendered less of a threat (none of these incidents look like 'beatings' out of hollywood movies and propaganda.)

(none of this is to say Johnson doesn't have issues, so don't take it as a defense of his record in its entirety.)

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"Allegedly, Johnson’s girlfriend spotted him with another woman and confronted her, at which point Larry grabbed and shoved his girlfriend to the ground. According to the report, Johnson turned himself in"

Look, I'm not saying these guys live lives that are the measure of virtue but if this is the incident you're talking about, this is not 'beating' or 'like/enjoy' beating anyone.

Have any of you guys dealt with any women or seen your friends deal with a woman (or vice versa, guys who are nuts about a woman or upset) and not seen what they do? For all I know the "confrontation" the girlfriend had in mind for the girl he was with was to beat her ass. If he grabbed her and shoved her to the ground, that isn't some crime against humanity. Women are people too and putting aside any judgment on Johnson, one way or another, we have these sacred lines that don't make sense in a society that encourages people to kick men in the balls, portrays them as bumbling idiots in media and commercials, as rapists and abusers in media campaigns on college campuses, etc.

Sorry, we should be fair and at least research these incidents and describe them, before we go and call someone a 'woman-beater' because they made physical contact with a woman. If any human being steps out of pocket, I'm not so sure why they should expect not to be rendered less of a threat (none of these incidents look like 'beatings' out of hollywood movies and propaganda.)

(none of this is to say Johnson doesn't have issues, so don't take it as a defense of his record in its entirety.)

:soapbox: Preach it brotha!

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Great article. You always have informative articles. Murf, I enjoy reading your articles most out of anything on ES. I think having LJ, CP, and WP along with guys like Ryan Torain can only help the team. Competition brings out the best in all players who really care about the game. Imho, there is almost no way that all three of the former Pro Bowl running backs the Skins have are not going to produce on the field this season.

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4 instances Nibbs man, at least which were reported to the authorities.

3 for assault, one for spitting his drink in a woman's face. He had the first felony that included waving a gun at his girlfriend dropped when he agreed to attend a domestic violence diversion program.

You lay your hands on a woman in a violent manner on ONE occasion, never mind showing a pattern of repeat offending, you get zero respect in my book.

Given his history, I stand by the "woman beater" line.

Hail.

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Each to their own, but I never could pull for someone that likes to beat on woman.

Hail.

Thankfully, it doesn't even faze me anymore when folks don't make it past the first sentence of something I write and yet feel compelled to comment. Maybe a couple years ago I would have bit, but now, I'll just let you be.

Good day, sir.

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Great article. You always have informative articles. Murf, I enjoy reading your articles most out of anything on ES. I think having LJ, CP, and WP along with guys like Ryan Torain can only help the team. Competition brings out the best in all players who really care about the game. Imho, there is almost no way that all three of the former Pro Bowl running backs the Skins have are not going to produce on the field this season.

You're very kind. The purpose of this article was simply to give a chance to a guy I was predetermined to dislike. After reading about his troubles in Kansas City over the years, I decided a while back that I didn't really like the guy. So what if I never met him or anything. I just didn't like him. But with him in town, I felt like I should talk to him and see for myself what he's about.

Like I said at the end of the article, one interview doesn't change the world. But he clearly didn't come across as the kind of guy I had pegged him as. So now I'm left to wonder if he's actually someone who has learned from past mistakes off the field and if he's got anything left in the tank on it.

As far as on the field, he's been one of the two most stand-out players I've seen during OTA practices and two minicamps this offseason. Which, like I said earlier, makes him one of the most intriguing storylines for the Redskins heading into this upcoming season.

Thanks again for the kind words.

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I wasn't responding to your article man, just the post I did.

I respect the fact that you've personally spoken to the guy, and the influence he can bring to the football team.

I just have little respect for him as a man, and not much "positives" about him are gona' change that, shrugs.

Hail.

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I wasn't responding to your article man, just the post I did.

Yes, I know. You weren't interested in the original post or a possible discussion about Larry Johnson's role on the 2010 Redskins. You just wanted people to know you don't like him. Got it.

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Yes, I know. You weren't interested in the original post or a possible discussion about Larry Johnson's role on the 2010 Redskins. You just wanted people to know you don't like him. Got it.

Sorry I'm not, for want of a better word, as "forgiving" as you in changing my opinion, and subsequently having little interest in discussing the dudes role with the team when I'd rather he not be here. If it was the wrong place to comment, and obviously it's rubbed you wrong, I apologize as I enjoy your work.

FWIW, it was a good piece as per from you, even if I don't care any differently for the man any more after reading it than before.

Hail.

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4 instances Nibbs man, at least which were reported to the authorities.

3 for assault, one for spitting his drink in a woman's face. He had the first felony that included waving a gun at his girlfriend dropped when he agreed to attend a domestic violence diversion program.

You lay your hands on a woman in a violent manner on ONE occasion, never mind showing a pattern of repeat offending, you get zero respect in my book.

Given his history, I stand by the "woman beater" line.

Hail.

Wikipedia, eh? I read that one too ;) who knows the real stories. IMO it sounds like equal parts temper problems and surrounding himself with the type of people that like to make a scene and put themselves in the limelight. "Rookie" mistakes if you will. Definitely had issues, definitely was not an upstanding guy, but I wouldn't call him a woman beater or anything. The stories are unclear enough for me that I'm willing to put it aside if he first shows good character here then produces on the field.

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Sorry I'm not, for want of a better word, as "forgiving" as you in changing my opinion, and subsequently having little interest in discussing the dudes role with the team when I'd rather he not be here. If it was the wrong place to comment, and obviously it's rubbed you wrong, I apologize as I enjoy your work.

FWIW, it was a good piece as per from you, even if I don't care any differently for the man any more after reading it than before.

Hail.

Stick to your guns GHH. The article was nothing but a typical puff piece and Johnson was not asked to address any of the incidents in his past. You have every right to choose not to read puff pieces on someone you don't care for because of their behavior towards women.

Also, while it's all well and good to get Johnson's feelings on being in Washington, to claim that this is a "get to know" article is stretching it. The Larry Johnson talking to a reporter in a new town covering his prospective new employer, is not the same (real) Larry Johnson who is out at clubs and is "not on stage" so to speak.

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Nice read murf, LJ has probably split the fans 50/50. Off field history that is nothing to be proud of, but potential to assist the team greatly in a solid RB group. It'll be interesting to see how this one plays out,

Each to their own, but I never could pull for someone that likes to beat on woman.

Hail.

GHH, Having read your posts in this thread, I am curious to know what effect the signing of a player 'like' Larry Johnson has had on your opinion of our new front office. Has it changed at all ?

The guy clearly has a track record, and for that he is responsible....and should be ashamed.

However, the reason he is a Redskins is because Mike Shanahan and/or Bruce Allen gave him a contract. They clearly don't hold that track record against him.

I don't disagree at all with your standpoint on his history, however I do have a genuine interest in how you view our 'new leaders' following their clear intention to sign a player, irrespective of his off field transgressions.

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Good question lar, and something I've been thinking on of late.

Disappointed.

That's my overriding view of the pick-up. This isn't a one time deal. The dude has a history, however it's spun. Disappointment for the first time with the new regime. I won't say pissed, as I'm not naive enough to realise the cut-throat business that is pro-sports, and therein a coach doing everything he can to win now when it's his ass ultimately on the line.

Maybe I'm old school ..... heck, maybe I am naive even, shrugs; and I know many, as evidenced by the TO/ Brandon Marshall/ A N Other threads that readily pop up wanting us to sign a player for his athletic ability, irrespective of the problems he may well cause on the team/ locker room will think the same of Johnson the player rather than Johnson the man; but I kinda' like to think we hold some standard of decency for want of a better term as an organisation, and while we can put up with jerks like Portis has been, and others before, we'd have a line we knew were to draw when it came to basic human actions. Shrugs, like I say, maybe I'm being naive when it comes to pro-sports in 2010, and the day's of men like Coach Gibbs and Landry are long past.

I don't know if I'm conveying my feeling via a screen, which isn't down on them, or pissed. Just disappointed, on the organisation as a whole.

Hail.

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OJ Simpson used to give a great interview, too. I don't care how nice of guy he is when you're not his woman; this guy is total garbage and I feel shame that he is a redskin. I sure am glad we traded for McNabb because the same people on here praising the character of a man who pummels women would probably be demanding we get Ben Rapelisberger, too.

Sean Taylor spit in the face of people like Johnson - see Michael Pittman (another wifebeating piece of crap). I don't care if he runs for 2500 yards and 50 TD's this year, the NFL shouldn't allow people like Johnson in the league. Sorry if I am a prude on this one, but I have no sympathy for wife beaters - period.

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It's a bit of a mixed bag for me...If the guy has matured and has changed as a man since those past transgressions, good. I don't have any respect for a dude that has a pattern/history of violence towards women, yet there is a part of me that still hopes for the best or wants to see the good in people even when they've failed or done wrong. Not for me to judge really, I will look at the guy as a football player and that's it.

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