Tank Johnson says gun arrest 'opened my eyes'

MIAMI -- Tank Johnson says he's thankful and being more careful.

The Chicago Bears defensive tackle, granted permission by a Cook County judge to travel with his team to Super Bowl XLI in Miami despite facing multiple firearms charges, told reporters at Super Bowl media day the situation "opened my eyes" and taught him some valuable lessons.

"It showed me that you've got to be more careful with who you surround yourself with and some of the time you spend off the field," Johnson said.

I've just got to keep my circle tight with the people who care about me and keep good people around me ... and just kind of conduct myself in a professional manner," Johnson said, "because you don't always get this opportunity to do this things like ... [to play in the] Super Bowl and play for a great team like this."

Johnson was arrested Dec. 14 after police raided his home in Gurnee, Ill., about 40 miles northwest of Chicago. Prosecutors say officers found three rifles, three handguns and ammunition in Johnson's home. He faces 10 counts of possession of firearms without a state gun-owner identification card.

Arrested three times in 18 months, Johnson has pleaded not guilty to the most recent charges. The previous arrests involved a scuffle with a police officer, in which the charges were dropped, and a misdemeanor weapons charge.

His friend and bodyguard, James Posey, was shot and killed two days later during an early morning fight at a nightclub in Chicago. Johnson had accompanied Posey to the nightclub.

Johnson, who publicly apologized after his arrest and received a one-game suspension, said the support of the Bears and his teammates showed him he was lucky to play for Chicago.

"It's taught me that the [Bears] organization, they do a great job of supporting their players
," Johnson said. "It's taught me a lot about my teammates ... You know, you don't know a lot of times what people think about you until you go through a tough situation. For our guys to come rally behind me, it taught me a lot about my situation and my teammates.

"I leave it in God's hands and leave it in the judge's hands," Johnson said of his case. "I'm the kind of person, I'm not going to let it worry me because if it's out of my control, it's out of my control. I'm not going to give myself gray hairs thinking about stuff that I really can't control. I prayed about it with my family and I just left it to God."