Larry Johnson: Wasted Potential
—Lorenzo Anello, A Bronx Tale
It's a poignant quote from Lorenzo in Chazz Palminteri's brilliant script featuring Robert De Niro and Palminteri together in De Niro's directorial debut. If you haven't had the pleasure, rent it. It's a stunning period piece about coming of age in America.
It also makes this observation about American society that Larry Johnson would be well-served to understand. It's actually kind of depressing to think it might be completely out of Larry's intellectual reach to see the metaphor it is for his whole football career, much less be able to relate it to effect some change in his life.
You might think I wish LJ would just go away, or that I don't like or respect him. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Before he ran away with the rushing title two seasons in a row, I was one of the first to stand up for him when Vermeil said he needed to change his diapers. Now, two years removed from those big seasons, I'm forced to confess old Dick might have been right about LJ all along.
At this point, besides his violence against women/anger issues, I think Larry has two major problems; he's lazy, and he's a front runner.
When I say lazy, I mean he seems to expect everything to come easy to him. Big contracts, personal and career respect, long runs and big yardage games: evidently all of this is supposed to happen for him just because his name is Larry Johnson.
When I say front runner, I mean it's always everyone else's job to work harder to make things easier for him—like his Offensive Line. When everything is clicking, Larry does great. But does he ever personally make an effort that lifts the rest of his team? I refer you to his 'whiff technique' pass blocking to answer that question.
To Larry, QB's only exist to hand him the ball. If they get their arse laid low on passing plays, Larry could give a ratza$$.
Last year, Herm Edwards went out of his way to kiss LJ's butt and all he got for his brown nose was 700-odd yards rushing. There's 80 or 100 other running backs in the NFL that could have done as well last year, even with KC's line problems. And they would not have cost the team a contract worth $40-plus million.
When LJ first came to KC, and during his big seasons he spoke about a career he could measure with the likes of Jim Brown. Well good luck with your ambition on that one LJ. Right now, you couldn't even lift Jim Brown's jock strap.
You want big contracts? Work harder, talk less.
You want personal and career respect? Work harder, talk less, earn your fat contract.
You want long runs and big yardage games? Work harder, talk less, learn to pass block.
You want fans? Try doing the things we expect from you on the field, and then do a little more. Then, try finding a way to let all of us know you care about being a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.
To all Chiefs fans, wearing the Red & Gold is about more than what you do on the field. You don't like the attentions afforded celebrity status? Stay out of bars. There's lots of other places a man can go in this world to have a social life.
Bars are not the place for an overpaid sports figure; a lot of women go there looking for husbands—aka cash cows. Add a little liquor to a loud woman, whether you raise a hand or not, if she's getting loud it's going to be YOUR fault. And you are not going to win an encounter like that...ever, especially now with your reputation and criminal history. Get a clue.
Finally, I don't believe LJ ever wanted to be a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. He paid a little lip service to it when he first got his big contract from King Carl, but it was half hearted at best, and outright untruthful at worst.
He doesn't live in KC, he works here (if you can call his efforts "work"). The rest of the time he's hangin' with Jay-Z in Alpine NJ wishing he was a Jet or a Giant...or even an Eagle. I say trade him to the Jets, we owe them one for sending us Herm.
Right now, LJ is Wasted Potential. And it's difficult to believe he will ever be more.
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