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Larry Alphonso Johnson, Jr. (born November 19, 1979 in ) is an American football running back for the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft. He played college football at Penn State.

Early years

Johnson is the oldest of three children, born to Christine and Larry Johnson, Sr.. His father is a former high school vice-principal, a legendary high school football coach, and the current defensive line coach at Penn State Universitymarker.

During his senior year for the State College Little Lionsmarker, Johnson rushed for 2,159 yards and 29 touchdowns. Johnson also recorded 31 tackles and 7 sacks as a defensive end for the Little Lions.

College career

Johnson attended Penn State Universitymarker, where in 2002 he rushed for over 2,000 yards in a season without winning the Heisman Trophy, despite doing so with fewer carries than any other running back in the exclusive 2,000-yard club. Johnson averaged 8.0 yards per carry during the regular season, a mark that would have been an NCAA record. However, by 2002 the NCAA had begun counting bowl games toward statistical totals, and Johnson's performance against Auburn in the postseason (20 carries for 72 yards) brought his average to just below the record of 7.8 held by 1983 Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier. Remarkably, Johnson broke the Penn State record for rushing yards in a game three times in 2002. His 257 yards in a 49-0 home thrashing of Northwestern broke Curt Warner's previous record of 256 yards set against Syracusemarker in 1981. Johnson then went on to rack up 279 yards in an 18-7 home win against Illinois and 327 yards in a 58-25 road win against Indiana. Johnson surpassed the 2,000-yard mark by gaining 279 yards on just 19 attempts in the Penn State Nittany Lions' final Big Ten Conference game against Michigan State. Johnson gained all 279 of his rushing yards in the first half, and was kept on the bench for the entire second half of the game. Johnson finished the 2002 season with 2,087 yards.

As a senior, Johnson won the Doak Walker Award (top running back), the Maxwell Award (top college player), and the Walter Camp Award (top college player).

He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Integrative Arts from Penn Statemarker in 2002.

Professional career

Kansas City Chiefs

Johnson was drafted in the first round with the 27th overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft as insurance for the Kansas City Chiefs, who were unsure if Priest Holmes would be healthy or even sign a contract extension. Johnson was drafted over the objection of head coach Dick Vermeil, who wanted to select a defensive player, and despite the lack of recent NFL success by Penn State running backs.
The conflicts between Johnson and Vermeil grew, and in 2004 Vermeil said that Johnson needed to grow up and "take the diapers off." Johnson took great offense to this comment, and the public estrangement led to rumors that he would be traded. However, towards the end of the 2004 season, Johnson got an opportunity to start after injuries to Priest Holmes and Derrick Blaylock. He became the first player to begin his career rushing for 150 yards in each of his first three games.

Facing the same situation in 2005, with Blaylock gone and Holmes having gone down with a season-ending neck injury in early November, Johnson stepped up, and on November 20 against the Houston Texans ran for a Chiefs' record 211 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He led the league in rushing yards and touchdowns after the injury to Holmes.

At the end of the 2005 regular season, Johnson had nine consecutive games with 100+ rushing yards, passing the 100-yard mark in every start for the Chiefs that season and earning a Pro Bowl berth. During the final game of the 2005 regular season, Johnson set a new franchise record of 1,750 rushing yards in one season, despite not starting in 7 games during the season. In addition to his running ability, Johnson proved himself to be an adept receiver. In 2005, Johnson caught 33 passes for 343 yards, averaging over 10 yards per reception. Johnson was named the 2005 MVP for the Chiefs. The Chiefs' record in 2005 was 10-6, but did not make the playoffs in spite of a winning record.

With injuries limiting Holmes during the previous two seasons, Johnson began the 2006 season as Kansas City's featured back. He rushed for 1,789 yards (second in the league) on 416 carries, an NFL record for most carries in a season. The Chiefs would make an appearance in the playoffs with a 9-7 record, where Johnson ran for 30 yards on 13 carries against the Indianapolis Colts. At the conclusion of the season, Johnson was selected to his second Pro Bowl appearance for his efforts.

On June 21, 2007 Johnson stated that he was willing to sit out the Chiefs' training camp unless he and the Chiefs reach an agreement on a new contract. On July 22, rumors spread about Johnson being traded to the Green Bay Packers. The initial asking price was a first-, second-, and third-round draft pick. However, on August 21, Johnson and the Chiefs agreed to a five-year contract extension that locked Johnson up with the Chiefs through the 2012 season. As a result of the extension, Johnson was the highest-paid running back in the NFL based on average salary per year. His new contract covered six years and was to pay him $45 million, with $19 million in guaranteed money - the biggest contract in Chiefs history.

In week 9 of the 2007 regular season, Johnson would be sidelined late in the 4th quarter against the Green Bay Packers with a foot injury. The injury would prove to be season-ending, as Johnson did not see any playing time in the rest of the 2007 season and was placed on the injured reserve list. Johnson would end the season with 559 yards on 158 attempts and only three rushing touchdowns.

In Johnson's first regular season game since his injury, he rushed for 74 yards on 22 carries with an average of 3.4 yards per carry against the New England Patriots on September 7, 2008. The Chiefs would go on to lose the game 17–10. After a loss to the Oakland Raiders the following week, Johnson spoke out about his low number of carries. In his next two games, Johnson rushed for a combined 319 yards on 52 attempts with an average of 6.1 yards per carry. Johnson was suspended for the Chiefs' game against the Tennessee Titans on October 18 for violating team rules. Johnson also was benched for the following game against the New York Jets. Johnson, after weeks of being inactive for the Chiefs, was suspended by league commissioner Roger Goodell for the team's week 10 game against the San Diego Chargers. He would finish the season with 874 yards and five touchdowns.

Johnson's 2009 season got off to a very slow start, despite Johnson keeping his starting job. As of week 8, he had 132 attempts for only 358 yards. His 2.7 yards per carry were the worst of any NFL running back with at least 70 carries. The Chiefs as a whole, and not just Johnson, struggled mightily in 2009, losing their first 5 games before winning 14-6 over the Washington Redskins. In the Washington game, Johnson had his best start of the season by gaining 82 yards on 23 attempts.

On October 27, 2009, the Chiefs "instructed Larry to refrain from practicing with the Chiefs or participating in other team activities" for his Twitter comments on Chiefs head coach Todd Haley and reportedly using gay slurs when he addressed the media. Because of his comments, Johnson encountered backlash from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Johnson's twitter comments were: "My father got more creditentials than most of these pro coaches." That was followed by: "My father played for the coach from "rememeber the titans". Our coach played golf. My father played for redskins briefley. Our coach. Nuthn." Johnson's tweets were responded by fans, one tweet including a reference to the nightclub incident. Johnson's response used the word "fag". The final post read: "Make me regret it. Lmao. U don't stop my checks. Lmao. So 'tweet' away."

Johnson said about the incidents,
"“First of all, I want to apologize to the fans of the Kansas City Chiefs and the rest of the NFL, Commissioner Goodell, the Chiefs organization, Coach Todd Haley, his staff, and my teammates for the words I used yesterday. I regret my actions. The words were used by me in frustration, and they were not appropriate."

On October 28, 2009, the Chiefs suspended Johnson until November 9 for "conduct detrimental to the club." They ultimately agreed to a deal with his agent, Peter Schaffer, in which he would only lose one game check ($300,000).

At the time of the suspension, Johnson was only 75 yards from passing Priest Holmes as the franchise's all-time leading rusher. This angered several fans, who started a petition demanding that the Chiefs either deactivate, release or waive him. The petition said that Johnson "has never represented anything close to the values that we have for our Chiefs" and thus didn't deserve the record.

On November 9, the day Johnson was due to return from his suspension, the Chiefs waived him. Reportedly, the final straw for Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli was yet another tweet in which Johnson belittled a fan for making less money than him. Johnson's agent, Schaffer, issued the following statement:
"A part of him is excited and a part of him is very regretful. There's a lot of feelings going on right now. It's analogous to breaking up with a girlfriend. Maybe you saw it coming, but it still hurts when it happens."
He cleared waivers at 4 pm EST on November 10, 2009, and became an unrestricted free agent.

Cincinnati Bengals

On November 16, 2009, multiple sources stated that Johnson would sign with the Cincinnati Bengals. The deal would be for the prorated league minimum pay. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said that Johnson's role "...would be as a fourth running back and an opportunity as a backup player on this football team doing all the things backup players do, and that's work their tails off in the kicking game and showing looks [on the scout team] and so forth that way. And then he would be an insurance policy if something would happen down the line to one of our guys where he'd have a chance to be active. But I couldn't foresee him being active when he was initially here, if this is what happens. And that's what I've told him."

On Tuesday, November 17, 2009, the Bengals announced that they had signed Larry Johnson.

NFL statistics

Year Rushing Receiving
Att Yards Avg TDs Rec Yds Avg TD
2003 20 85 4.3 1 1 2 2.0 0
2004 120 581 4.8 9 22 278 12.6 2
2005 336 1,750 5.2 20 33 343 10.4 1
2006 416 1,789 4.3 17 41 410 10.0 2
2007 158 559 3.5 3 30 186 6.2 1
2008 193 874 4.5 5 12 74 6.2 0
Total 1243 5,638 4.5 55 139 1293 9.3 6


Johnson and his father, Larry, Sr., maintain a very close relationship, as Johnson has referred to his father as his "best friend" in several interviews. Johnson's brother and manager, Tony Johnson, was a starting wide receiver for Penn State from 2000-2003.

In 2007, Johnson appeared in Fantasia's music video for the song When I See U. Johnson also made an appearance in Jay-Z's music video "Roc Boys ...". Johnson is known for flashing "The Roc" symbol (also known as the "Diamond Cutter") whenever he scores a rushing touchdown. This symbol is made with both palms facing out and touching both thumbs together and both index fingers together. Johnson signed a contract with the Team Roc clothing line founded by Jay-Z. The first appearance of this gesture was after he scored a touchdown in a game on December 4, 2005.

Legal troubles

Johnson has been arrested four times since 2003 on various assault charges against women. In 2003, he was arrested for felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor domestic battery for waving a gun at his then-girlfriend, during an argument at his home. The charges were dropped when Johnson agreed to participate in a domestic violence diversion program. In 2005, he was again arrested for assault when a woman accused Johnson of pushing her to the ground, but the case was dropped after the alleged victim failed to appear in court for three different hearings.

His third arrest for assault came on February 24, 2008, after allegedly pushing a woman's head at a nightclub that night. On October 10, 2008, Johnson was arrested for the fourth time and charged with one count of non-aggravated assault for allegedly spitting a drink in a woman's face at a Kansas City nightclub on October 11. The woman involved, Ashley Stewart, has since filed a civil suit against Johnson, accusing him of negligence, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

It was announced on October 16, 2008 that Johnson would be deactivated for the October 19 game against the Tennessee Titans in response to violating an undisclosed team rule. The team said his suspension for this game was unrelated to the newest criminal investigation.

In March 2009, Johnson pleaded guilty to two counts of disturbing the peace, regarding the two incidents in 2008, and was sentenced to two years probation.


Further reading

External links


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