By John Gottlieb
It was last week that the Chicago Bears got a bit of good news when Cook County (Ill.) Judge John Moran allowed Tank Johnson to travel to Miami for Super Bowl XLI.
While not at work Johnson was required to stay at home after a December 14 raid on his Chicago suburb house found six weapons with ammunition, resulting in 10 charges of possession of firearms without a state gun-owner identification card. His bodyguard and childhood friend, Willie B. Posey, was arrested during the raid for possession of drugs.
In an article in the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald, it was reported the police found 550 rounds of ammunition, six guns, including a semiautomatic rifle with 19 live rounds and a loaded .45-caliber handgun, marijuana and what what was thought to be the prescription painkiller hydrocodone.
Two days later Johnson was at a bar where Posey was shot and killed.
And what did the Bears do? They suspended him for one game.
It's apparent that Johnson, who was a second-round draft choice out of Washington in 2004, has a problem keeping himself out of trouble. That was his third arrest in the last 18 months.
The first was in a fight with a police officer with the charges being dropped and the second was a misdemeanor weapons charge in November 2005. Johnson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months probation and community service after a valet reportedly saw the 6-3, 300-pound defensive tackle with a handgun in his SUV.
There has always been a double standard for the public and sports stars when breaking the law, but it has never been more evident that this.
How's it possible that Johnson was allowed to cross state lines to play in the Super Bowl? What's the point of probation if you can violate it with no ramifications? I thought these sentences were supposed to be a deterrent to prevent these things from happening again and again.
Johnson is lacking a little common sense and what does it say about the judicial system to let him go and play in the biggest game of his life? What's even more sad is that the prosecution didn't even object to the decision.
Is the district attorney's office more enamored with Chicago's first Lombardi Trophy in 21 years than keeping its citizens safe?
Media day, and this entire week is a joke, but the only thing I wanted to hear, more than Peyton Manning or Brian Urlacher, was Johnson try to explain what's happened over the past year.
I know that the charges are pending since he pleaded not guilty, so I wasn't expecting an apology or anything revealing, but he had the audacity to say that this was the best year of his life and that the situation opened his eyes. Apparently, his past transgressions with the law were mulligans or no big deal.
Chicago tried to shield Johnson by not giving him his own tent, but he couldn't dodge the questions.
When asked on the media coverage regarding his troubles, Johnson replied, "I would say (it was overblown). But it's the job of you guys to hype the hot story. Unfortunately, I was the story that gave you guys ammunition to write about me. Of course, I think that, but I just have to do my job. Sometimes you guys don't have the facts or you fill in the blanks here and there. I don't think that's right, but I don't have any control over that."
That's right, blame the media. I thought that Tank made an interesting choice of words.
Chicago's defense has struggled since the loss of Tommie Harris and Mike Brown, but maybe the franchise could've been the role models and given Johnson a little more than a one-game layoff. It would've made the Bears conquest that much harder, but it also would've made the statement that there are consequences for your actions, even if you're an NFL athlete.
However, Johnson will be lining up opposite Peyton Manning on Sunday looking for the NFL's biggest prize. It must be nice to be an athlete within the dichotomy of the judicial system. It's funny how hard it is to get a second chance in life if you're an ordinary citizen, while the world bends over backwards if you can run fast, throw the deep pass or sack the quarterback.
*** photo courtesy of AP ***
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