This is an article from the Nov. 23, 2009 issue
Larry Johnson UNEMPLOYED RUNNING BACK
I talked to Johnson, 30, after the Chiefs cut him in the wake of his Twitter posts that were critical of coach Todd Haley and included a gay slur
DP:Did you want out of Kansas City?
LJ: Not necessarily. I loved my teammates. Those guys are the funniest I've been around. It was great to be the older guy in the locker room.
DP:But it seems like you were upset or angry.
LJ: I wasn't upset. If anybody likes losing, they shouldn't be playing this game, or any game. If I was frustrated and upset, it was mainly with myself. You feel like every carry you have to go 60, 70, 80 yards because that's what it was going to take for us to have a chance. I was putting all that stress on myself, and I wanted to put the team on my back. But it just wasn't working out.
DP:You seem like a media-savvy guy, which makes it hard for me to understand the Twitter posts. Help me understand the gay slurs and what you said about your coach.
LJ: That was a conversation that turned ugly. I lost perspective. One thing one guy says leads to another, and then you say something and you completely lose yourself. And people can read everything you write and everything you think about.
DP:Do you think you have anger issues?
LJ: No, it's not an anger issue. I have a competitive issue. I like to win. Sometimes that gets the best of me, and I become overly competitive and try to control every little thing I can. Sometimes I lose myself in that.
DP:When people thought of you, they used to say, "He might be the best running back in football"—and you don't get that now. Now when people think of Larry Johnson, they're not going to think about football. How much does that bother you?
LJ: It bothers me a great deal. I've done enough negative stuff to [lose] that label of one of the best running backs, but that's something that I've got to fight to try to prove again. When I walk away from this game, or this game is done with me, I don't want to have all my problems or what I've said on websites overshadow what I've done in the National Football League.
DP:Why would a team take a chance on you right now?
LJ: I've still got a lot of tread left on my tires. I'm still going to try to run hard every play, and I'm still going to try to pick up blitzes no matter who they are or where they're coming from.
DP: Is Todd Haley a good coach?
LJ: Yeah. It took somebody like him to come in and really shake things up. We were so comfortable because all the big-name guys had a parking spot in front of the practice facility. Well, when Todd came in, all that was erased. Now there are no superstars, everybody has to earn that.
DP:You are 74 yards behind Priest Holmes on the Chiefs' career rushing list. Did that factor in your being cut?
LJ: I think it did. They had to save the organization from me being at the top of that list. They did the right thing to protect that and have a great guy, Priest Holmes, still be that guy. Hopefully, one day, when I'm 33 or 34 and I've still got a little burn left, they'll let me come back and get those yards.
DP:You would eventually like to go back to Kansas City and end your career there?
LJ: I wouldn't have a problem going back. To me it seems only right.
Andre Agassi discussed his controversial autobiography, Open, which details his use of crystal meth during his tennis career. Agassi said he wrote the tell-all as part of an "atonement" for his drug use and for lying about it. I asked him if he had ever been high while playing in a tournament. "No," he said, "it's impossible."
After becoming only the eighth D-I basketball coach to win 800 games—and just the fourth to do it all at one school—longtime Syracuse boss Jim Boeheim, 65, told me that while he was looking forward to retirement, he doesn't have plans to quit anytime soon. I suggested that a national championship might be a fitting send-off, but he didn't see it that way. "I think the opposite," Boeheim said. "If you win the national championship, things are going good. Why leave then?"
Line of the week
Chargers coach Norv Turner named the show he likes to watch whenever he wants to clear his head after a session of studying game tape: "Deal or No Deal. It's a game of percentages. I'm always amazed at how greed gets all of us."
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