Our boy Larry Johnson is back in the news, because when you start calling people “fags” left and right in the middle of the worst season by a starting running back in NFL history, well, you get to be in the news.
Even as LJ slogs his way through the season & starts fights with everything in sight, objects animate and otherwise, he’s still only 80 yards away from overtaking Priest Holmes for the Chiefs’ all-time rushing record. Chiefs fans have noticed this, of course, and the last thing they want to see if their hallowed franchise’s record books tainted by a guy with such a cloud of negativity following him.
Empty gestures! Sign an online petition!
The petition already has - at “press time” - 1282 signatures, which is roughly as many Chiefs fans that haven’t yet torn up their season tickets and burned the shreds out of frustration. And as so many petitions do, all subtlety and nuance is eschewed for bombast and overreach, turning the writer’s passion on the subject into unintended hilarity. For example:
During his first few years in Kansas City, Larry Johnson ran through holes created by one of the greatest offensive lines ever put together. He was handed the ball and was asked to follow Tony Richardson, the best fullback to ever don a Chiefs helmet. Because of those early successes, Larry Johnson now sits on the cusp of becoming the all-time leading rusher in Kansas City Chiefs history. Not to discredit anything he has accomplished, but we believe it would be a travesty if Larry were to surpass the great Priest Holmes as the Chiefs all-time leading rusher.
There is no reason for him to keep getting starts. There is no reason for him to even see the ball. There is no reason for him to be on the sidelines. The number 27 should be taken off the field because of a line like that.
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.
We are asking this as a favor to those of us who have supported this team long, long, long before you were brought in. We will support you through thick and thin - you will find out that we are a loyal, loyal bunch. As you will learn, Kansas Citians are very supportive of our organizations. We love the Royals and the Chiefs. We understand there are ups and downs and we do not expect the team to win 12 games every year. We know the Chiefs will get better and that it might take some time. While we may be frustrated at times, we understand. However, allowing Larry Johnson to attain a record is something that can never be erased. In a year where the team is trying to look toward the future with many young players, please don’t add to the collective morose this city is feeling by allowing one of the truly great players, people, and role models in this city’s sporting history to be replaced in the record books by someone who we don’t like and who doesn’t like us. Show this town you are the leader the organization needs and release or deactivate Larry Johnsons now and never again let him wear the red and gold on Sunday.
In case this rhetorical style seems familiar, good eye. Imagine the words coming from this guy’s mouth:
…and then it’ll all make sense.
The petition’s notoriety was helped along by the Pulitzer-winning TMZ.COM, who have inexplicably taken up the cause of dumping on Johnson for some odd reason. They also got a hold of Andy Phelan, one of the creators of the petition, who had this to say:
I would love it if we never see Larry Johnson in a Chiefs uniform again … He’s a cancer in the locker room.
At the very least, though, you can’t question Phelan’s sincerity. He and the other petitioners’ names aren’t splashed all over the complaint, and he’s not writing on behalf of any silly fanblog who’s just doing this for hits. In other words, it’s not some publicity stunt (or if it is, they’re doing it wrong).
But though his motives are seemingly pure, there’s also the thorniest detail of them all: online petitions have never effected any change offline in all of Internet history. It’s just the Internet, where anonymous and inflamed opinions have always ruled the day. Expecting it to somehow guide a pro football’s team strategy - especially via such an extreme measure like deactivating a player on account of “no record for you” Soup Nazism - seems a little rosy-eyed and naive.