KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Larry Johnson’s record-breaking career as a Kansas City running back is over.
The Chiefs confirmed Monday that they had run out of patience with his off-the-field problems and released Johnson the day he was due to come back from his second suspension in a year.
Johnson, who turns 30 on Nov. 19, was just 75 yards away from breaking Priest Holmes’ team rushing record.
The decision by the Chiefs (1-7) was not a surprise.
“A part of him is excited and a part of him is very regretful,” Johnson’s agent, Peter Schaffer, told The Associated Press. “There’s a lot of feelings going on right now. It’s analogous to breaking up with a girlfriend. Maybe you saw it coming, but it still hurts when it happens.”
A No. 1 draft choice out of Penn State in 2003, Johnson was one of the best running backs in the NFL in 2005 and 2006, rushing for more than 1,700 yards in each of those Pro Bowl seasons.
But often angry and sullen, he was dogged by controversy and frequently at odds with coaches and fans. On Oct. 25, in what turned out to be his final episode with the Chiefs, he posted on his Twitter account several insults to fans, questioned coach Todd Haley’s credentials and used a gay slur.
He repeated the slur the next day to reporters and was suspended for two weeks. At Schaffer’s urging, the Chiefs cut the financial penalty in half, saving him about $315,000.
Johnson was the subject of an online petition last week calling on the Chiefs not to let him break the team rushing record. He was never a fan favorite and his apology for the online comments came almost exactly one year after issuing a similar apology for alleged incidents involving women in Kansas City night clubs.
In 2008, then-coach Herm Edwards benched him for three straight games for violating team rules. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him a fourth game for violating the league’s player conduct policy.
Johnson was later sentenced to two years’ probation after pleading guilty to two counts of disturbing the peace. One woman accused him of throwing a drink on her and another said he had pushed her head at a Kansas City night spot.
A judge suspended the sentence and said he would remove the guilty plea from the public record if Johnson has no further legal problems during probation.
On the field, Johnson has not run with the quickness and strength that characterized his Pro Bowl years since setting an NFL record with 416 rushing attempts in 2006. He set the team single-season rushing record that season with 1,789 yards.
This year, in 132 carries behind inconsistent blocking, he averaged only 2.7 yards per carry. He ends his Chiefs career with 5,996 yards rushing and 55 touchdowns. He also caught 151 passes for 1,369 yards and six TDs.
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