Monday, December 18, 2006

Guns, Drugs, Tank and a Death

With the glory of not having to leave Chicago during the playoffs until February fresh on the Bears' plate following a closer-than-it-should-have-been 34-31 win over the Tampa Bay Bucs, the mold around the edges will receive most of the attention the rest of the way into the playoffs. With a healthy Tommie Harris, Tank Johnson's arrest and the tragic shooting of his "bodyguard" would simply add color to an impressive season; it would be a notch in the belt of overcoming odds. It would be a minor occurrence (if death can ever be considered minor) on the way to an inevitable birth in the Super Bowl. But the hamstrung Harris' missing place in the lineup creates a firestorm out of the mess that is Tank Johnson.

Many people have asked, "What was Tank thinking?" And I would never presume to know what was on his mind, but tell me why two men who were just arrested 24 hours earlier are out sowing their wild oats in a city that recognizes its sports celebs with a paparazzi-like zeal. Wouldn't a low key attitude be a tad more appropriate?

Was Tank Johnson asking for trouble by heading out to a nightclub? Knowing the fervor of Chicago fanatics a heckling should have certainly been suspected; looking back at Tank Johnson's past history, a response to such heckling would be expected too. I don't know Tank Johnson personally, I've never even seen him from a distance, but I'm assuming just from reading his bodily dimensions -- 6'3", 300 lbs. -- that he's quite the imposing figure, and sometimes simply being imposing can negate many an incident. But add alcohol to any incident and even the smallest man feels like he's Superman. Yes, I think Tank Johnson was asking for trouble by going out in public so soon after his humbling arrest. And in the eyes of public opinion, he's as guilty as Sammy Sosa or Mark McGwire even though neither was ever caught taking steroids.

As for his gun possession charge, without an FOI card, he is guilty by the letter of the law. And he will have to answer for those charges, both to the Lake County District Attorney and to the NFL disciplinary committee. But like Ricky Manning , Jr., the time line for answering those charges would most likely reach beyond the NFL playoffs and into next season.

Unfortunately for the NFL, and the NBA, MLB, PGA, the PTA, WHO, NWO, etc. for that matter, the founding fathers found it necessary to include firearms protections when putting together the Bill of Rights, their thought process being every man should have the ability to shield himself from harm. And in 1789 those were noble causes and ideals, but -- and I promise not to draw this diatribe out too far -- in today's society, that right to bear arms is outdated. Guns are now more of a toy for the private owner -- a very dangerous toy -- than a tool necessary for survival.

Was Tank Johnson building a Branch Davidian-like stronghold in Gurnee? Was he a disillusioned patriot fighting for the rights of the disenfranchised? Was an army of cheeseheads threatening his home and family? I highly doubt it. More likely he was a wealthy athlete with idle hands, idle time and sense of entitlement bestowed upon most American professional athletes.

And now the eye of the media has descended upon Tank Johnson. Do not think for one minute that he and his "bodyguard," 26 year-old best friend William Posey, would not have made it into the front pages of Chicago's newspapers had the shooting of Mr. Posey never happened. I am certain there would have been some vigilant shutter-bug tracking his every move, and front and center would have been some form of the Paris Hilton-like headline: " Tank Parties to Forget." Tank's attempt at relaxation would have been splashed everywhere from ESPN to the smallest blog such as F&F.

But now as a Bears fan, I wonder what this does for a defense that is reeling. Am I shallow for not considering his feelings concerning the death of his friend? Absolutely. But Tank isn't my friend, he's my defensive lineman. Tank has had countless more resources to help with whatever issues he was facing than I'll ever see in a telephone book. His allowance of marijuana into his home was just stupid, (and I would be far far far from surprised if he took a puff or two now and then.) And now the Bears defense is teetering on the brink of collapse.

Does he not see the potential for greatness in earning the immortality that comes with a sporting championship, and the chance he was taking by inviting such destructive elements into his life? I guess not, and now as a Bears fan I have to suffer.

But maybe I'm the one with the problem; maybe I'm the one overemphasizing the importance of sports in society. Maybe I'm wrong for wanting to spit in Tank Johnson's face for screwing with the Bears' triumph. Maybe I'm wrong for wishing our athletes were perfect automatons without personalities. Maybe I need the help Tank Johnson shunned.

Or maybe I should just learn to live with imperfection. William Posey did, and look where it got him.


Anonymous hakeem said...

solid piece, funny, I'm transplanted a bit at this point, but Sat. morning my dad called me up to talk about the shooting. We probably talked for ten minutes discussing what the Bears were gonna do at D Tackle, his assumption that Tank's played his last game in Chicago, and on. Your comment "Thank isn't my friend, he's my defensive lineman" hits it right on the head.

This isn't the first time such sentiments have sorta arisen in the sports landscape though, and it won't be the last. Think of the TO overdose story. It seemed as though, from the onset, there was an extreme ammount of "good ridance" reactions across the sports nation, as opposed to "I've never liked the guy, but hopefully he's alright." That pissed me off at the time, but come to think of it, I wasn't too damn concerned for the overall wellbeing of Tank Johnson over the last few days. I was concerned that Alfonso Boone and Ian Scott are our d tackles.

That's what you'll get though, because sports is more than just a diversion in our society, but rather an obsession that is cultivated at an early age

12:57 PM, December 18, 2006  
Blogger DickdaStick said...

Gripping piece of work there Nordie !

....far beyond anything that Mariotti spews out and, shockingly, gets paid handsomely for.

Keep 'em coming !!

1:11 PM, December 18, 2006  
Blogger Soxually Repressed said...

My concern in cases such as these is far less with the player, or even with the effects of the incident upon the team. (Remember, my team's idiot scored twice this week.) My concern is with the innocents these actions overflow onto. The family, friends, etc. When Owens "overdosed" my immediate thought was, to be honest, that sucks for him and his family, BUT, at least he won't be jerking around the team anymore. I never want people to die who aren't guilty of some very serious crime. Yet, to be perfectly honest, I am getting tired of being asked to feel sorry or give special treatment to/for people who are too stupid, narcissistic, or just plain mean when bad things happen to them. If stupid, especially wealthy, stupid people want to find idiotic ways to lose their money or their lives, stop acting like other people should care. If Tank Johson can't find ANYTHING else to do that doesn't break society's stated rules, not only should he lose the privledge of playing a game for ridicluous amounts of money, he should lose the joy of freedom to walk the streets of that society.

1:34 PM, December 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great post, nord.

i think you have a piece of it reversed. sports and tank johnson are just a microcosm of our society as a whole these days. think of all the corporate/political/cultural leaders who fail to consider the big picture and their responsibilties to the greater whole. a "me only" approach has permeated our culture, so not really surprised when a self-absorbed nose tackle whose basic job description is being an immovable object suffers from it.

4:43 PM, December 18, 2006  
Blogger Soxually Repressed said...

Never surprised, just continually saddened.

11:44 PM, December 18, 2006  
Blogger ChicagoCubbin said...

Great post, maybe you should be Tanks new bodyguard,I hear there is an opening. I'm sure you could give him better advice then Posey!

4:59 PM, December 21, 2006  

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