Johnson just latest memorable holdout

The Tennessee Titans are getting ready for their second preseason exhibition game, and yet star running back Chris Johnson is nowhere in sight.

Johnson, inarguably the best running back in the league the last three seasons, wants to be paid as such (and then some). The Titans have indicated that they’re willing to talk about it, but Johnson so far has stayed away from camp.

NFL preseason holdouts are nothing new. Sometimes it’s rookies who want to get every last dollar they can (though this might go out of the window next year once the new CBA’s rookie slot money system kicks in), sometimes it’s veterans who wish to tear up their old contracts because their production demands better, and sometimes it’s just guys who don’t want to sweat through the rigors of training camp.

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Slideshow: Top 10 memorable NFL holdouts

A couple of times, just the threat of a holdout was enough to force a team to get a deal done. Eli Manning(notes) made it clear that he didn’t want to play for the Chargers, who took him No. 1 overall in 2004 but within hours dispatched him to New York. The Colts learned a harsher lesson with John Elway, who said he’d rather play baseball than be in Baltimore. He was obligingly dealt to the Denver Broncos.

But in 1986, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t take the word of Bo Jackson seriously, and paid dearly for it. The Heisman Trophy running back didn’t hide his disdain for the Bucs, who still took him No. 1 overall in the draft. Jackson then delivered on his promise, signing a contract with the Kansas City Royals to play baseball. The Bucs never even came close to a deal with Jackson and weren’t able to complete a trade before his draft rights expired the next season.

The Raiders plucked Jackson with a seventh-round pick the following year and actually got Jackson to play for them – though on a part-time basis as a “hobby” – until a serious hip injury derailed his promising NFL career.

A year later, Kelly Stouffer also held out for an entire season, but he was traded days before his rights expired. To hear Stouffer tell it: “They thought I was some country bumpkin sitting out in a Nebraska cornfield, but I had done my homework.” The St. Louis Cardinals wouldn’t budge, until they dealt him to Seattle for three draft picks. That turned out to be a stiff price for the Seahawks, as Stouffer lasted five unspectacular and injury-prone seasons.

Typically, quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers – the glamour skilled position players – are more likely to hold out. But sometimes offensive linemen, fed up with not getting paid enough for doing the dirty work, get in on the act, too. John Hannah and Leon Gray, a pair of guards for the Patriots, held out in tandem and succeeded in getting new contracts in 1977. Seahawks offensive tackle Walter Jones(notes) sat out three consecutive training camps (2002-04), but never missed a regular-season game as he always came to terms just as all the preseason stuff was over with.

Whatever their reasons, every case has its own unique story, and these are our Top 10 most memorable NFL holdouts:

The top five:

1. Bo Jackson (1986)
2. John Hannah & Leon Gray (1977)
3. Emmitt Smith (1993)
4. John Riggins (1980)
5. Eric Dickerson (1985 & 1990)
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Updated Monday, Aug 15, 2011