|Johnson says he's ready for Goodell's punishment|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 18 May 2007 13:41|
``I feel like whatever sanction he imposes, I'm man enough to take it and I know that once I get back on the field, that chapter of my life is closed and I can move on with a sense of closure,'' Johnson said Friday after the first day of Bears minicamp.
It was Johnson's first public statements since being released from Cook County jail Sunday.
Johnson met with Goodell in New York on Wednesday and awaits a decision on a possible suspension for violating terms of his probation and a gun charge.
In April, Goodell suspended Tennessee Titans defensive back Adam ``Pacman'' Jones for the 2007 season, and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry for eight games before introducing a strengthened personal conduct policy.
``Mr. Goodell has the league's interest to look out for,'' Johnson said. ``Whatever sanction he imposes, I know that it's in the best interest of this league.
``I can't say what would be fair, what would be unfair. But I do know that meeting Mr. Goodell, he's a fair man. He gave me the opportunity to speak with him. He gave me the opportunity to convey some of the things that I want to get better at. I feel like whatever he imposes, meeting him and knowing he's a fair man, is in the best interest of the league.''
During their 90-minute meeting in New York, Johnson said he told Goodell his goal is to go from jail to NFL Man of the Year.
``One day I want to be the face of the league for guys who have come through adversity, came through it and ultimately became the Man of the Year in the NFL,'' Johnson said. ``That would be a tremendous ending to the story.''
Johnson spent 60 days of a 120-day sentence in jail for violating his probation. He was released Sunday for good behavior.
In December, police raided Johnson's Gurnee home and found six unregistered firearms - a violation of his probation on an earlier gun charge.
That charge stemmed from Johnson's 2005 arrest after a Chicago nightclub valet reported seeing Johnson with a handgun in his SUV. He subsequently pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge.
Two days after the raid in Gurnee, Willie B. Posey, the Johnson bodyguard who had been arrested after the raid, was shot and killed in an early morning fight while he and Johnson were at a Chicago nightclub.
Johnson was suspended by the Bears for one game for being at the club.
In March, Johnson began his jail term for violating his probation. Last month, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor weapons charge stemming from the December raid as part of a deal with prosecutors that kept him from serving more time in jail. He was ordered to serve 45 days, which he was able to serve concurrently with the sentence for violating his probation.
Johnson had numerous visits from Bears players, coaches and officials during his 60 days of incarceration.
``It was a tough time for me, but at the same time I learned a lot about myself,'' Johnson said. ``I learned a lot about a lot of things. During that process, I got to know that I have tremendous support from all walks of life.
``The Bears showed me unconditional support. My friends and family showed me unconditional support.''
Johnson credited coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo, in particular, with standing by him during his time in jail. Johnson did not participate in the team portion of practice Friday because he needs to be in better condition, Smith said.
Johnson did do some individual work early in practice.
Smith still regards Johnson as the Bears' starting nose tackle.
``As much as anything, Tank now has a starting spot,'' Smith said. ``He's back with the group working out. He has a long way to go. As a football team we have a long way to go.
``But Tank will catch up. He's got a smile on his face. He's excited about being back around this team.''