Maybe Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson will have no impact in the Super Bowl. Years from now, when networks show highlights of the game in glossy, cinematized form, Johnson may blend in with the rest of the
Except Tank Johnson will be there, with his entire name on the back of his uniform, his balloon for a belly, his exceptional run-stopping ability. He will be there despite the fact that he is scheduled to stand trial this Thursday, four days after the biggest game of the year, back in
If Tank believes that he’s an unstoppable, tank-like force on the gridiron, that’s fine; it’s when he translates this mentality off the field that the armored one finds himself in trouble. When police raided Johnson’s home in December, they found an arsenal large enough for a Rainbow Six protagonist: two assault rifles, four handguns, everything but a rocket launcher in the refrigerator door. His arrest for possessing firearms without a state gun-owner identification card was his third in 18 months. The first came for illegally possessing a gun at a nightclub, the second for aggravated assault and threatening a police officer at a nightclub. Tank’s punishment? Eighteen months probation and 40 hours of community service for the gun possession, charges dropped for the assault.
Why Johnson needed enough guns to stave off a blitzkrieg from the Third Reich is unclear. But a Skokie,
So now Tank, a man with a passion for guns and nightclubs, is in
This treatment is inevitable for our star athletes, heroes to millions whose feats often supersede all else. But there is a difference between a discount at a car dealership and a discount as a law-abiding citizen. Repeatedly allowing athletes who have been arrested or are on trial to continue playing is putting them above the law. They are innocent until proven guilty, but they should also be suspended until that innocence is proven. If an athlete is arrested, he should be suspended at least one game. If he is on trial, he should be held out of competition until the trial is over. Until we draw the line, teams like the San Diego Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals will continue to have arrest-offs, and players like Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones, who has made a hobby out of spitting on Miss Pacmans at