Priest Holmes(notes) is currently the all-time leading rusher for the Kansas City Chiefs, but Larry Johnson(notes) -- recently suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team", i.e. using a nasty gay slur twice in a 24-hour period -- is closing in on that record. If he gets 30 or so more carries, he should get it.
A lot of Chiefs fans don't want that to happen. They love their Chiefs, they respect the franchise's history, and they don't want Johnson's name associated with it. It's not just because of the recent suspension, either. If you're looking for them, you'll find no shortage of reasons to dislike Larry Johnson.
So fans are taking matters into their own hands and circulating a petition asking the Chiefs to deactivate Johnson before he can claim the record. The petition reads, in part:
We are asking you, as fans of this team, this organization, and of the pride that this city has in the Chiefs, please deactivate Larry Johnson. Please do not let his name sit atop the all-time rushing leaders in Kansas City Chiefs history. He needs a mere 80 yards to surpass Priest. He doesn’t deserve that opportunity. He has never represented anything close to the values that we have for our Chiefs and it would be another dagger to the fans that continue to support this proud franchise.
It's a nice notion, trying to protect the record book from someone who isn't believed to have the character of others in there before him. It's easy to see where petitioners are coming from, and their devotion to a proud Chiefs history is commendable.
If it were my team, though, and some disreputable character was about to put his name in my team's record book ... I don't think I'd sign a similar petition. At the end of the day, what's most important to me is that the team is doing its best to win football games.
I believe there's one thing that should always be true about an organization. As Herm Edwards (sorry, Chiefs fans) once said, You Play To Win The Game. The fans who play to watch their team deserve the best effort to win. The rest of the guys on the team deserve the best effort to win. If that happens to come in the form of a not-so-nice guy running the football, then so be it.
I like the Dalai Lama. I don't like Larry Johnson. I'd rather have Larry Johnson running the football for me.
The nice thing about this particular case, though, is that Johnson is neither a nice guy or a productive running back, so his benching would seem to suit everyone. He's currently picking up 2.7 yards per carry and has no touchdowns. Backup Jamaal Charles(notes), meanwhile, has averaged a 5.0-yard gain on his 23 carries this year. So whether you see it my way, or the way of the petition signers, benching Larry Johnson seems to be the right thing to do.
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