Friday, February 02, 2007

In Defense of Tank Johnson

Bill Plaschke, Jay Mariotti, and others, have taken their turns ripping into Tank Johnson. They believe the Bears, the NFL, and the legal system, have been too lenient on Tank. Not only do they not believe he belongs in Miami, but I get the feeling they would be happy to see him in jail.

But for what exactly? I don't want to minimize his legal problems, but the least you can say is that they are not felonious.

Legal Issues
He was first arrested 18 months ago when a valet at the club Excalibur noticed Tank put a gun in the glove compartment of his car. The valet called police who went in and arrested Tank inside the club.

Now packing heat in your car might not be the brightest idea, but it seems to be somewhat common amongst black athletes. This is not something that should be condoned by anyone, but it's hardly a major crime. Tank pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge and received 18 months probation and 40 hours community service. He should have bargained for 12 months probation.

Then, as everyone knows, police raided his house in Gurnee and found six guns. Tank was then arrested for not having Illinois Firearm's Owner Identification Card. Now, this is a card you can receive by mailing in a form along with five dollars. This is an administrative oversight, not a serious crime! These are misdemeanor charges, and it boggles the mind that this justified a police raid and forcible entry into Tank's house.

Those are the extent of Tank's legal problems and I don't think they justify prison, home confinement, or suspension from the league. If anything, Tank has been treated worse by the legal system because he is a football player, not better.

Now I know there are other aggravating circumstances including:

Tank was arrested last February outside another night club after telling a cop,"You ain't the only one with a Glock. If it wasn't for your gun and your badge, I'd kick your ass."

Now, I think that is actually pretty funny as you can be 99% sure the cop was being a prick. I would say 100% but I am sure there is a nice cop out there that I just haven't met. Charges were later dropped after this arrest.

Tank's buddy was arrested after the raid on his his house for marijuana possession.

I don't think marijuana is a big deal and I am not going to pass judgment on those who use it anymore than I would pass judgment on someone who drinks martinis.

There were firearms in plain sight of Tank's children.

Now, this is troubling, but we really have no idea if this is true. The police have to cover their asses after over-reacting with a police raid and need something to justify their heavy-handed actions. Anything they say has to be taken with a grain of salt.

Tank's buddy was killed at a nightclub.

This is the one I don't get. How in the world is Tank responsible for this and what is wrong with going to a nightclub? It's not like getting shot at a nightclub is a common occurrence and it's not like Tank frequented clubs in shady neighborhoods. He was hitting trendy clubs in the River North neighborhood, one of the least likely places you will get shot in Chicago. He has no moral or legal culpability for the death of his friend.

Tank may, or may not be, a good person, and he sounds like a pretty shitty neighbor. But nothing he has done deserves the vilification he has received in the press.