<
>

Johnson suspended for eight games; can be reduced to six

6/5/2007 - NFL Tank Johnson Chicago Bears + more

NEW YORK -- Tank Johnson is the latest NFL player to feel
the impact of commissioner Roger Goodell's crackdown on off-field
misbehavior.

The Chicago Bears' defensive tackle was suspended Monday for the
first eight games of the 2007 NFL season, the third player
sidelined this offseason under Goodell's toughened personal-conduct
policy.

Johnson, who recently spent two months in the Cook County jail
for violating probation on a gun charge, joins Tennessee's Pacman Jones, suspended for the entire season, and Cincinnati's
Chris Henry, out eight games. Jones, who's appealing his
suspension, has been arrested five times and had 10 interviews with
police since being drafted in April 2005. Henry is one of nine
Bengals arrested last year -- one of the reasons Goodell, with the
approval of the players union and newly established players'
council, established his "get tough" policy.

Johnson, who will be allowed to attend training camp and play in
the preseason, seemed to accept his punishment.

"I think it's an opportunity for me to move forward," he said
in Lake Forest, Ill., where the Bears are conducting offseason
workouts.

"It's not my call to say whether it's fair or unfair. But Roger
Goodell's a fair man; I know that. He took everything into
consideration that he and I talked about, and what he came up with
is what he came up with it. If it's in the best interest of the
NFL, then I'm all for it, too."

Goodell said the suspension could be reduced to six games if
Johnson has no further involvement with law enforcement and
undergoes counseling.

"I am looking at it like a six-game suspension, because I
definitely am very confident that I'm capable of doing everything
that he's asked me to do and more," Johnson said.

If the suspension lasts the entire eight games, Johnson stands
to lose $255,000, based on his salary for next season of $510,000.

Bears coach Lovie Smith said he expects Johnson to abide by the
conditions that could shorten his suspension.

"I have faith in Tank," Smith said. "Tank has been a
different guy for a long time. I think he's demonstrated that, and
this is just another step toward getting him back on the field and
getting this past behind him."

After a May 16 meeting with Goodell, Johnson said he wants to
become the NFL's "Man of the Year," the player honored for being
its best citizen.

Last December, police raided the 300-pound defensive tackle's
suburban Chicago home and found six unregistered firearms -- a
violation of his probation on an earlier gun charge.

That charge stemmed from Johnson's 2005 arrest after a Chicago
nightclub valet reported seeing Johnson with a handgun in his SUV.
He subsequently pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge.

Two days after last December's raid, Willie B. Posey, Johnson's
bodyguard, was shot and killed in an early-morning fight while he
and Johnson were at a Chicago nightclub.

Johnson was suspended by the Bears for one game for being at the
club. He played in the Super Bowl as the Bears lost to
Indianapolis.

In March, Johnson began his two-month jail stint for violating
his probation. Last month, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor
weapons charge stemming from the December raid as part of a deal
with prosecutors that kept him from serving more time in jail. He
was ordered to serve 45 days, which he served concurrently with the
sentence for violating his probation.

He said Monday he bears no ill will toward the league officials
who decided to suspend him.

"I feel like if this is what they feel is the sanction that is
correct, then it's in the best interest of the National Football
League," Johnson said. "I'm a proud member of the National
Football League, and I want to be that for a long time."