Huddle Up: He may not have been legally drunk, but Johnson’s actions unsettling

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So Tank Johnson just wasn’t tanked enough. He may have gotten away with drunk driving little more than a month after being released from jail on a parole violation. And yet there are some who think the Chicago Bears owe him another chance.

The Bears dunked Tank three days after he was pulled over in Arizona for speeding, then taken to the police station when an officer suspected he was impaired. He wasn’t booked or charged, and after Johnson’s blood alcohol content was tested at .072, slightly below Arizona’s legal limit of .08, he’s got no beef with Arizona authorities other than a ticket.

Chicago general manager Jerry Angelo said in a statement the Bears were upset and embarrassed by Johnson’s actions. He didn’t say they were upset and embarrassed by his arrest. There is a big difference.

“A lot of people within our organization gave extra time and energy to support Tank: players, coaches and our front office,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said in a statement. “We did our best to establish an environment for him to move forward. Ultimately, Tank needed to live up to his side of the deal.”

Tank didn’t live up to his side of the deal, which his apologists don’t seem to understand. The privilege he had of playing for the Bears was hanging by a fibre-optic thread. Then he decided to have a few drinks (a man his size doesn’t get tipsy on a glass of wine. I know, being a man of his size) and go out for a drive at 3:30 a.m. This despite stern and explicit warnings from the team and the NFL commissioner that he had to end his occasional run-ins with the police.

Those in Tank’s tank argue that Johnson ultimately didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not against the law to be out driving at 3:30 a.m. He wasn’t legally drunk. Some have gone so far as to suggest that all he was guilty of was perhaps Driving While Black.

In this little existence we call reality, it is assumed that past performance does indicate future results, especially if you’ve spent a fair chunk of that past acting like a jackass. It takes years, sometimes even a lifetime, to overcome that. But Tank Johnson, who was guilty of Driving While Being Tank Johnson, can’t seem to accept that.

Johnson will be picked up by another team. But he’s done nothing to convince us that he understands that the rules apply to him, too. Maybe by his third or fourth chance he’ll begin to grasp the idea that when your employer is willing to still keep you around after you’ve served a two-month jail sentence, it is you who has no margin for error. Not your employer. Having even one drink and then going out driving indicates either a lack of understanding or complete disregard of that concept. Johnson’s apologists think it’s his God-given right to either be ignorant or disloyal.

What’s really sad is that the Bears seem to be the only ones embarrassed by this. Tank Johnson should be embarrassed. Tank Johnson’s defenders should be the most embarrassed of all.

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