Johnson suspension makes sense

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was tough but fair in suspending the Bears' Tank Johnson for eight games, John Clayton writes.

Updated: June 4, 2007, 7:52 PM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell faced a tough juggling act in making his decision on Terry "Tank" Johnson, the Bears' defensive tackle who was suspended for eight games Monday.

Did he want to be as tough on Johnson, who violated probation on a gun charge and spent 60 days in jail, as he was on Titans cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones, who was suspended for the season? Or did he want to be as matter of fact as he was with Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry, who was suspended for eight games for several infractions?

Goodell was tough but fair in dealing out eight games to Johnson because he gave Johnson every chance to be back in six. Johnson realized his bad ways once he was arrested late last year after his house was raided and guns were found. The player proposed a 10-point plan to clean up his off-the-field life. That list included getting better friends and being more responsible.

The fact that he served jail time and Jones didn't shouldn't be an issue here. Jones has been involved in at least 10 off-the-field incidents. The bonus for Johnson is that he still can train at the team facility, which is important. His teammates all support him, and that had to play into Goodell's decision.

All Johnson must do is follow his 10-point plan, along with whatever the NFL has mandated he do, and meet with Goodell by Oct. 1. Johnson's past created the problem that could cost him eight games. It was a wake-up call. If Johnson lives a better life, he will miss only six games, but -- most importantly -- he will come out of this experience a better person.

Goodell is being tough on players with off-the-field problems. With Johnson, he is being compassionate. An eight-game suspension with the chance to be reduced to six is the right way to go.

John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer

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