Chiefs' Johnson charged for spitting in woman's face, won't play for now

Updated: October 28, 2008, 1:28 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City running back Larry Johnson, already facing possible suspension by the NFL, was charged Monday with simple assault for spitting his drink in a woman's face.

Several hours later, the Chiefs indicated the two-time Pro Bowl running back would not play for the foreseeable future.

The charge is the second such count the former Pro Bowler is facing.

Kansas City police spokesman Darin Snapp said Johnson turned himself in and was released after posting a $500 bond.

Simple assault is a municipal charge, similar to a traffic ticket, and carries a maximum penalty of a $500 fine and 180 days in jail. But the two-time Pro Bowler, who signed the biggest contract in Chiefs history about 15 months ago, could be in much deeper trouble with the league.

This is the fourth time in five years he's been accused of assaulting a woman and the Chiefs acknowledged last week the NFL was looking into the latest incident.

He was deactivated for the past two games for breaking team rules. But in a written statement Monday, Chiefs president and general manager Carl Peterson left little doubt the team's highest-paid player would be absent again this week regardless of what action the league might take.

"The case with Larry Johnson has been and continues to be in the hands of the NFL office in New York," Peterson said in an e-mail to The Kansas City Star and The Associated Press. "We will defer further comment on the matter until that process has run its due course and the league has concluded its own independent investigation.

"As we have previously indicated, it is in the best interest of both Larry and the Chiefs that Larry focuses his attention on addressing his personal issues. At present, we do not believe Larry can contribute to our team on the field until those issues are resolved," Peterson said.

The NFL Network reported Sunday that Johnson will meet with commissioner Roger Goodell in New York on Tuesday.

A person familiar with the situation also told The Associated Press that Johnson would meet with league officials Tuesday. The person requested anonymity because the league has not announced the meeting.

Snapp said the incident occurred on Oct. 10 at The Blonde during the Chiefs' bye week. A 24-year-old woman said Johnson threatened to kill her boyfriend before spitting his drink in her face.

After leaving the bar, she said Johnson tried to spit on her again as he was escorted out.

Johnson also faces a Dec. 4 court date for another incident that occurred last February when he allegedly pushed a woman's face in another Kansas City nightspot.

All the incidents involving the former Penn State star have had three things in common: anger, alcohol and women. Johnson said last week he would be "seeking help to get better as far as getting my life on track."

The son of Larry Johnson Sr., an assistant coach for Penn State, the 28-year-old Johnson was benched the past two games for violating team rules. Last week, he appeared briefly before the media and apologized for his behavior.

"This is the first time in my life I actually had to stand up, I mean actually woke up and kind of be disgusted with myself and disgusted as far as the way my life and my career is heading right now," he said.

He concluded by saying, "In times of darkness, you've got to look for the light and that's what I plan on doing, regardless of what suspensions and fines are being handed down. I will take them as sincerely as they give them out."

In 2005 and 2006, Johnson was one of the best running backs in the NFL. He went to the Pro Bowl after rushing for more than 1,750 yards in each season. After a training camp holdout in 2007, he was rewarded with a contract that guaranteed a team-record $19 million. But he was injured the last half of the 2007 season and has been inconsistent so far this year for the Chiefs (1-6).

In Kansas City's lone victory, he rushed for 198 yards against Denver on Sept. 28, the most in the AFC this season.

Calls to Johnson's agent and attorney were not immediately returned.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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