Special master rules in favor of Chiefs in LJ case
By ADAM TEICHER
The Kansas City Star
A special master’s ruling Monday made it far less expensive for the Chiefs to release running back Larry Johnson, if they so choose.
The Chiefs prevailed in their grievance case against Johnson when a special master ruled that $3.75 million of his salary in 2009 and 2010 was no longer guaranteed.
If the Chiefs decide to release or trade Johnson, the decision makes that move much easier on the Chiefs. His contract calls for $3.5 million of Johnson’s 2009 salary and $250,000 of his 2010 salary to be guaranteed regardless of whether he plays for them or not.
The special master ruled that Johnson forfeited his right to the guaranteed payments when he was suspended last year for one game by the NFL for a violation of the league’s personal-conduct policy.
Johnson would still receive his full 2009 salary of $4.55 million if he plays the season for the Chiefs. If he’s released before the start of the regular season, the Chiefs are no longer obligated to pay him the $3.5 million, as they would have been before the special master’s ruling.
Johnson’s agent, Peter Schaffer, said the running back, contrary to the comments he made early in the offseason, wants to play for the Chiefs.
“He’s excited about the direction the team is going in,” Schaffer said. “What happened today has no bearing on Larry’s desire to play for the Chiefs.
“Larry Johnson’s entire focus is to prepare for the 2009 season. He’s a member of the Kansas City Chiefs and wants to help them win a Super Bowl. He didn’t even attend the hearing last week. He was actually at the Chiefs’ practice facility when it was going on. He didn’t even ask about it.”
The Chiefs had no comment.
Johnson has 30 days to file an appeal.
“We disagree with that portion of the ruling,” said Richard Berthelesen, the general counsel for the NFL Players Association.
“But we have not yet decided as to what we’re going to do by way of appeal.”
The special master ruled Johnson was entitled to keep one-fourth of the 2008 portion of his signing bonus, or about $521,000. The Chiefs had argued Johnson forfeited that with the suspension.