Chiefs coach Herman Edwards benched Larry Johnson for Sunday's game against Tennessee for violating team rules. Now, Kansas City's star running back soon might incur additional punishment, this time from the NFL -- and for different reasons.
During the Chiefs' recent bye week, Johnson was involved in a physical altercation with a woman at a Kansas City nightclub, sources told ESPN -- the second such late-night incident he has found himself in this year. The incident is consistent with a pattern of off-field behavior that league sources expect will lead to a suspension for Johnson under the NFL's personal conduct policy.
It's unclear whether Johnson has been or will be charged in the incident.
"It's just a matter of for how long," one source said of a possible suspension.
The Chiefs acknowledged Johnson's latest troubles.
"We are aware of the most recent incident involving Larry Johnson and we are very disappointed with his involvement," team president Carl Peterson said in a statement Sunday. "We will cooperate fully with the Kansas City authorities who are investigating the matter. We have also made the NFL office in New York aware of the incident and officials there are conducting their own independent investigation.
"Based upon the NFL Player Conduct Policy, we will have no further comment."
League spokesman Greg Aiello declined comment Sunday.
Johnson has been involved in at least three other incidents during his six-year NFL career; the bye week incident is his fourth -- not third, as reported last week -- and second of 2008. Each incident involved one or more of three common denominators: a female accuser, alcohol and a nightclub. In the case of the past three, it's been all of the above.
Johnson already faces a December court date on a simple assault charge stemming from a Feb. 24 incident in Kansas City, news of which surfaced last week. A 26-year-old woman accused the 28-year-old Johnson of pushing her head with his open hand. If convicted Johnson could be sentenced to up to six months in jail and fined $500.
In 2003, Johnson was accused by a former girlfriend of brandishing a gun during an argument. He was charged with aggravated assault and misdemeanor domestic battery, but those charges were dropped the following year after Johnson agreed to enter a domestic violence diversion program.
Three years ago, a woman accused Johnson of pushing her to the floor after an argument. The woman later changed her story, decided not to press charges and missed three court hearings, leading to the dismissal of the charges.
Johnson has rushed for 417 yards and three touchdowns for the Chiefs, who lost to Tennessee to fall to 1-5. In August 2007, the club signed their 2003 first-round draft pick to a six-year, $45 million extension that included $19 million in guarantees.
Michael Smith covers the NFL for ESPN.