Jail time served could mitigate Johnson's suspension

Updated: May 10, 2007, 10:48 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Tank Johnson
Johnson

Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson, who is expected to be released from the Cook County (Ill.) Jail on Sunday after serving a 60-day sentence for firearms possession, is set to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell next Wednesday in New York, two league sources and a source close to Johnson said.

The meeting was first reported Thursday afternoon by the Chicago Tribune.

It is believed that Johnson will become the third player in recent months to be suspended by Goodell for a violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy. Goodell suspended Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones for the 2007 season, with the possibility of his return after 10 games if a series of conditions is successfully met, and levied an eight-game suspension against Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry.

Jones has appealed the suspension and Goodell will hear the appeal Friday.

There has been speculation Johnson could face an eight-game sanction. But sources told ESPN.com that Goodell will take into account that Johnson has served jail time, in essence doing some penance for his indiscretions. It could possibly, at least to some extent, mitigate any sanctions imposed by the commissioner.

Whatever decision Goodell makes is likely to come shortly after next Wednesday's meeting.

During his jail stay, Johnson was regularly visited by teammates and club officials, and he has enjoyed the support of the Bears organization, which remains hopeful that his problems are behind him and that he can return to the field as a productive player.

Johnson, 25, pleaded guilty last month to possession of a firearm without a valid Illinois firearm owner's identification card, a misdemeanor punishable by up to year's jail time. In accepting the plea, circuit court judge Brian Hughes sentenced Johnson to 45 days in jail, with credit for time served in the Cook County Jail from a previous charge in March. He also ordered Johnson to donate $5,000 to a pair of local charities.

In March, the Bears tackle was sentenced to 120 days in the Cook County Jail and fined $2,500 for violating the terms of his probation stemming from a 2005 weapons conviction. Johnson will have served 60 days of that sentence on Sunday and, barring complications, he will be released early for good behavior.

In a Dec. 14 raid on Johnson's home, police found a half-dozen firearms and 500 rounds of ammunition. They also discovered a cache of marijuana belonging to Johnson's friend, Willie B. Posey, who was shot to death two days later in a Chicago-area night spot.

A second-round choice in the 2004 draft, Johnson has played his entire three-year career with the Bears, appearing in 46 games. The former University of Washington standout has 89 tackles, nine sacks and one forced fumble.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.

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