Why the Pittsburgh Steelers Need To Sign Larry Johnson

Nick SignorelliSenior Writer INovember 12, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 20:  Larry Johnson #27 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up before the game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium on September 20, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

I read an article today from one of my favorite writers, TJ Jenkins (by the way, GLAD your back TJ), talking about Larry Johnson wanting to play for the Steelers. Read his before you read this. Go ahead.

It seems to me that there are a lot of Steelers fans that don't think this is a good idea. As a matter of fact, Timothy Kessler said it so eloquently—

The first thing that came to my mind when i read the title to your article was, yeah...and people in hell want ice water.

NOT going to happen .

I commented, giving 10 reasons why the Steelers should take a chance on Johnson, but I would like to go into more detail.

1 - We have a strong enough locker room to control him. If he got out of line, imagine the offensive line moving out of the way and the defense getting a clean shot.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a "Band of Brothers", as my McDonalds DVD tells me. They have team unity. An amazing defense, with some of the hardest hitters in the NFL. I dare anyone to say that there is a safety that hits like Troy Polamalu, or an OLB that is tougher than James Harrison.

The offense features a Pro Bowl quarterback that has also won two Super Bowls, and is 27. They have two, count them, two receivers that are Super Bowl MVP's, and a starting running back that is in his second year.

If that is not a strong locker room, then I don't know what is.

2 - He is a Pittsburgh guy. His dad cried at the draft when the Steelers didn't draft him. (They took Polamalu instead - GREAT call).

First off, everyone that knows me knows that I think Troy Polamalu is the best player in the NFL. Had Troy not gotten injured, and played against the Bengals the first time and the Bears, the Steelers would be undefeated today.

Prior to the 2003 NFL Draft, Larry Johnson was open and honest about who he wanted to draft him. He grew up in Pittsburgh, went to Penn State and always wanted to be a Steeler. His Dad was wearing a Steeler hat prior to the draft, and cried when the Steelers did not draft his son.

3 - Parker is washed up. If anyone says they are the same age, there is a difference between a speed back at 30 and a power back at 30.

Yes, the magic number for running backs to decline is 30. Yes Parker and Johnson are both hitting that magic number. Parker has always been a player that relied on his speed. Johnson was never that fast in the first place.

4 - Mendenhall is the guy, but we still need that short yardage back, and LJ fits the mold to a T.

I love what Rashard Mendenhall brings to the Steelers. He has come a long way, and I believe he is the future at the RB position. There is one thing that bothers me: He almost acts like he is afraid of contact.

Have you noticed since becoming a starter, Mendenhall will run out of bounds instead of running over a DB? He has done it numerous times, and at least twice against the Broncos. That is all LJ knows. On the short yardage plays, I want someone that is going to put his head down and sprint into the pile.

5 - Considering he is already being paid around $5 million this year, we would probably get him for league minimum.

In his 6th year, Johnson is a fully tenured player. That means when he was on the opening day roster, his yearly salary became fully guaranteed. He is going to pocket near $5 million dollars for the rest of the year. If you could play for the Steelers, would you play for league minimum?  I would!

6 - The reason he got killed so bad the last couple years in KC was because with no passing game, teams focused solely on him.

As I noted above, the Steelers have TONS of weapons. Teams would not be able to focus on LJ, or they would get killed by everyone else. There are not too many teams that have the weapons the Steelers have, so LJ would be just one of the bunch.

7 - Tomlin could coach him.

Tomlin benched Rashard Mendenhall earlier this year because he did not feel like he practiced hard enough. Tomlin takes no junk, and Johnson would be on a short leash.

8 - Remember Bettis at the goal line? LJ would be the same way.

4th and goal from the one, would you rather see the Steelers run or pass? Every one of you that said run, you lie!  The Steelers short yardage game is a joke on third and fourth and short. We all get nervous every time, and LJ would hit the pile like Bettis used to.

Remember Jeromes last couple of years? The only time he would get in is if we needed 3 yards or less. That is the role of LJ.

9 - As a Steeler fan, do you really think he would not behave on the team he grew up rooting for?

Steeler Nation, we are different than every other team in the NFL. The fans are the most loyal, and we love the team like we are a part of it. LJ would not do anything that would give the Steelers a reason to want him gone.

10 - For the man to say he wants to play for the Steelers, he knows what will be expected, and knows that he would have to be on his best behavior.

With LJ not being on the opening day roster, he only gets paid for the games he plays. If LJ were to have ONE issue, then the Steelers could just cut him. LJ would know that. IF he were to act up, there is no other team in the NFL that would even look at him. They would all say, he hand picked the Steelers and could not even behave for them?

In my personal opinion, the Steelers are even better than they were last year. The Vikings and Broncos, who have three loses between them, each have one loss against the Steelers.

To me, anything short of another Super Bowl is a bad year. The Steelers have almost no weak spot. I see LJ as an insurance policy. What happens in Mendenhall gets injured? Why take the chance that the Super Bowl run could be cut short, when we could have an insurance policy that has rushed for over 1,700 yards is a season?



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