Larry Johnson, the once unstoppable Kansas City Chiefs running back, has been asked to stay away from the team after he twice spat out a gay slur publicly and posted critical comments about his head coach on Twitter, according to reports.
The Chiefs' demand that Johnson stay away from team facilities and practice comes despite the player's apology and seems to mark another step in the steady decline of the formerly dominant runner.
A team statement said the Chiefs are investigating "the alleged comments made by Larry Johnson. Until that review is complete, the Chiefs have instructed Larry to refrain from practicing with the Chiefs or participating in other team activities," according to the Kansas City Star.
The move is the latest in a series of problems Johnson has caused since he became one of the best running backs in the NFL in 2005 and 2006, making two Pro Bowls, before steadily declining on and off the field. His production decreased at the same time he was benched for four games last year for unspecified team violations and a run-in at a bar involving two women who accused him of assault, according to the Associated Press.
The hate speech drama erupted Sunday night after Johnson posted a Twitter rant against first year head coach Todd Haley, questioning his credentials. The Chiefs (1-6) had just been demolished by the San Diego Chargers and Johnson ran for a paltry 49 yards on 16 carries.
"My father got more creditentials than most of these pro coaches," one tweet read, followed by: "My father played for the coach from "rememeber the titans". Our coach played golf. My father played for redskins briefley. Our coach. Nuthn."
In a subsequent exchange with his Twitter followers, Johnson appears to insult one by calling him a f*g, according to the Star. Then on Monday, he used the longer version of the slur to shoo away reporters in the locker room, the Star reported.
Johnson's language was condemned by Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation who called on the NFL and the Chiefs to discipline the player.
On Tuesday, Johnson issued an apology in a statement released by his agent:
“First of all, I want to apologize to the fans of the Kansas City Chiefs and the rest of the NFL, Commissioner Goodell, the Chiefs organization, Coach Todd Haley, his staff, and my teammates for the words I used yesterday. I regret my actions. The words were used by me in frustration, and they were not appropriate. I did not intend to offend anyone, but that is no excuse for what I said.
“I also want to apologize to all the kids who view athletes as role models. I was not a good role model yesterday and hopefully I can become a better role model. We all make mistakes, and the challenge is to learn from them. I will do my best to learn from this one as I move toward becoming a better person, teammate, and member of the Kansas City Chiefs team and community.”