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Larry Johnson still in hot water over Gay slur
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Larry Johnson still in hot water over Gay slur

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

On October 28, Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson, who made two Gay slurs within a 24-hour period directed at Chiefs coach, Todd Haley, was issued a one-game suspension - a decision Johnson's agent said he would appeal.

Peter Schaffer said the suspension and other lost revenue would amount to a nearly $600,000 loss for the former two-time Pro Bowl player.

Johnson first used the Gay slur "fag" on his Twitter account in an exchange with one of his followers on October 25. Johnson repeated the slur on October 26 in the locker room when he thought reporters weren't listening.

Johnson issued an apology last Tuesday, nearly one year after apologizing to the team and its fans and ownership for two incidents in Kansas City nightspots in which the NFL running back plead guilty for disturbing the peace.

The apology, however, seemed to fall on deaf ears. Coach Haley and first-year general manager Scott Piolo have repeatedly said they are trying to build a new culture and attitude for the franchise, and said Johnson's disloyalty would not be tolerated.

In a three-sentence news release issued October 28, team management said Johnson was "suspended for conduct detrimental to the club." The Chiefs said Johnson would be suspended until Monday, November 9.

In 2007, Johnson signed a five-year contract extension that guaranteed him nearly $19 million, but could be worth as much as $45 million. Currently, he needs just 75 rushing yards to break the team's career record. According to NFL stats, Johnson was one of the best running backs in 2005 and '06, but he has struggled this year. Johnson wrote the Gay slur on his Twitter account several hours after the Chiefs lost to the San Diego Chargers 37-7, one of the team's worst losses ever.

Because of Johnson's latest problems, his future with the Chiefs after November 9 still seems uncertain.

Schaffer, who's currently working on the appeal for Johnson, said he didn't realize the Gay slur used by his client in the team's locker room was unacceptable.

"We know the n-word is unacceptable, that's not disputable - but fag? I'm learning that there's a segment of our society that finds it offensive and that it should not be used. I didn't realize that, but I do know now."

He said he is working on both an appeal of Johnson's suspension and a settlement with the Kansas City Chiefs. Former NFL player Esera Tuaolo, who revealed he is Gay after he retired from the football league, said Johnson's remarks show there is little tolerance for Gay people inside NFL locker rooms.

Meanwhile, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has responded to Schaffer's comments.

"Anti-Gay slurs feed a climate of intolerance and are often the last word that Gay people, and Gay youth in particular, hear before they are assaulted or bullied," said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios in a statement released October 30. "Peter Schaffer's comment is another indication that there is a lot of work to be done - in the NFL and in America - to raise awareness about the impact of these ugly slurs."

The common use of this word in sports, Barrios said, creates a hostile and silencing environment not only for LGBT athletes and coaches, but for members of our community in the stands.

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