February 1, 2007, - 11:16 am

Tank’s Song: Even Gayle Sayers (& Jon Saraceno) Want Thug Out of Superbowl

By Debbie Schlussel
If you’re a sports fan, you’ve probably heard about thug, criminal, and Chicago Bear Terry “Tank” Johnson. You’ll see him on your screen if you’re like millions of Americans watching the Superbowl, Sunday.
Although he violated probation, Judge John Moran–a numbskull jurist who thinks football is more important than justice–allowed Johnson to leave Illinois to play in the Superbowl. Think that would happen for you or me? Think again. Even legendary former Bear Gayle Sayers thinks Johnson should be barred from playing in the Big Game. But Chicago Coach Lovie Smith doesn’t have the ethical sense to do so. As they say in the NFL, “Just win, baby.” (Raiders Owner Al Davis)

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Jon Saraceno Nicely Barbecues Tank Johnson

Bravo to my friend, Jon Saraceno, of USA Today, and–in my opinion–America’s best sports columnist. I don’t always agree with him, but he’s always a good read. Jon’s column on Tank Johnson says it all. If you didn’t think Johnson had a bad record off the field, this should change your mind. It reminds me of Jon’s columns on murderer Ray Lewis who also played in a Superbowl, not long after people were murdered with his help. Where Ray Lewis’ mantra in responding to the charges was “We be trippin’,” Johnson’s is, “It is what it is”:

MIAMI – It is what it is, Tank Johnson repeated. He was talking about his predicament, which really wasn’t so bad when you consider his best friend ended up in a morgue last month after defending the 6-3, 300-pound Chicago Bear in a seamy nightclub, two days after Johnson was arrested on weapons charges while on probation.
Until six weeks ago, the world Johnson, 24, occupied was one where guns and ammunition and young children and pit bulls and a man named Willie B. Posey co-existed under one dangerous roof.
Uncle Poe, Tank called him.
“He was a brother, a nanny, he was everything to me, man. Everything,” Johnson said.
And someone arrested on felony drug charges.
Johnson apparently considers himself a regular Cliff Huxtable. Tuesday, at Dolphin Stadium, he said, “I don’t like violence in this world. I can’t stand it. It’s glorified on TV so much, then music. I don’t like it.”
According to prosecutors, Johnson was in possession of three rifles, three handguns, and a cache of ammunition. Oh, and a trio of pit bulls. Protection in the ‘burbs, I guess.
“I pride myself in being a normal person,” said Johnson, arms splattered with ink, diamond-chunk earrings sparkling in the sun at Dolphin Stadium. “I just got caught up in the whole thing of being a normal guy.”
“My definition of normal – the way I got to where I am today, you’ll never know or understand. White America, or however you want to put it, it is what it is.
“I grew up different.”
He is right. We can only imagine.
“When you see me walking down the street, I don’t look like you, I don’t talk like you and I don’t walk like you. It’s easy to say, ‘He’s just like the (rest of them). There’s an opportunity to stereotype me right there. It’s just the way I am: I’m young, I’m black, I’ve got tattoos, I’ve got dreads.
“It is what it is.”
If he were truly a regular guy, he might be preparing to watch Sunday’s Super Bowl while under house arrest. But big Tank belongs to the most privileged, coddled group of union workers known in the history of America: professional athletes. Instead of playing up to the role of handsomely paid pro, which has responsibilities but rarely dire consequences, he played down.
“However much I want to be a normal person and do normal things, I’m not a normal person and I’ll never be a normal person, especially in a city like Chicago (which) holds special athletes to such a high standard,” he said. What a cop-out.
He is the father of 3- and 1-year-old daughters, but how was he ever going to understand the most basic of needs? He never had safety when he needed it, shuttled between homes, states, relatives and strangers until the eighth grade. He laughed off a query about whether a gang tried to set him ablaze.
“It is what it is. They were messing with my sister. Luckily, the match didn’t ignite, so I got up out of there.”
The police had been called to his house more than 30 times because of disturbances relating to the dogs and the discharging of firearms. Less than two days after the raid on Johnson’s house, Posey was murdered. Johnson was suspended by the Bears – for one paltry game.
Bring in the lawyers and the teammates.

The Bears’ reaction to Johnson’s trip – granted by a judge last week – was typified by linebacker Brian Urlacher: “My man, Tank, that’s great. He’s a big part of our team. You can see what we can do out on the field and we need him. We need him to win this thing.”
Hey, fans, it is what it is.

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Class Act: Gayle Sayers, Then & Now

Gale Sayers is right. Tank Johnson doesn’t belong here. He had his chance. The Bears and Lovie Smith should be embarrassed. So should the NFL. Johnson should be chagrined, but there he was Monday night walking down Ocean Avenue wearing an oversized “99″ bling-bling chain. . . .

Amen, Jon. And shame on Tank Johnson for trying to turn this into a race thing that “White America” will “never understand.” Sorry, but there are plenty of Black Americans who don’t live like or understand this, and resent being tarred by Tank Johnson with the Tank Johnson brush.
Gayle Sayers is right. And so is Jon Saraceno.
Tank Johnson–A great reason why I support the right to bear arms, but not the right to arm Bears . . . especially if they’re like him.

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9 Responses

You have to look at the values of the ‘hood’, what it means to make it. What the dream is all about.
Success means guns, gaudy jewelry, a posse, a ‘tricked out’ car and cheap women. The ideal is to be feared and respected. Basically, a gangster rap video.
That lifestyle gets you into trouble. Nothing good ever happens at a club at 3:00 a.m. Further, nobody in the suburbs wants to live next to a guy who is outside shooting his gun, owns dangerous pit bulls, plays loud music, has people over at all hours of the night. That’s why people move OUT of the hood. Its not racism, to want to have decent neighbors. Having respect for those around you is not ‘selling out’ or ‘acting white.’

dll2000 on February 1, 2007 at 1:51 pm

Right on Debbie. This shows again how we have flipped out in our value system–to actually rank participation in a “big” sports game above the law–yes this certainly teaches great values to our people! I am sure that, as all too often happens, this Tank will go Clarett (like the Ohio State star running back/thug)–continue to get into trouble and commit crimes until enough damage is done and he tanks for good. I wish you would have been able to develop this on CNN last night–I didn’t understand that one point–maybe that’s what you were alluding to–but I do now.

BB on February 1, 2007 at 2:23 pm

Where is Eminem’s Revenge’s post saying how us white folks in Amerikkkka don’t understand what a role model Tank is?

Jeff_W on February 1, 2007 at 3:49 pm

Black folk are ALL thugs and Mexicans are all born lazy…WHY bother wasting rope and walls on those sub-UNTERMESCHEN???
i’m SURE “we” got the technology to final solutionize them easily now
RE-READ THIS, EMINEM’S REVENGE. THAT GENERALIZATION ABOUT BLACKS IS WHAT TANK IS SAYING. I’M SAYING THE EXACT OPPOSITE. WHAT COLOR IS GAYLE SAYERS?
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL

EminemsRevenge on February 1, 2007 at 3:51 pm

I was hoping the senseless death of Darrent Williams (Broncos) would make people take a closer look at the dysfunctional culture that makes thugs like Tank think they’re “normal”, but everyone’s forgotten Williams already. Heartbreaking.

radishthegreat on February 1, 2007 at 4:47 pm

Bad boy of the internet, who some have called the Dave Chappelle of blogging, EminemsRevenge tells it like it is!

Dan on February 1, 2007 at 7:01 pm

You’re just jealous about the success of the other Midwestern football teams, Debbie. Can you say “Lions suck”?
WRONG. WHILE I LIKE SPORTS, I HAVE NO FAVORITE TEAMS AND DON’T CARE WHO WINS (AND THAT ESPECIALLY INCLUDES THE LIONS, RED WINGS, AND TIGERS). SINCE I’M NOT A BILLIONAIRE OWNER OR MILLIONAIRE PLAYER, WHEN THIS TEAM OR THAT TEAM WINS OR LOSES, IT HAS NO EFFECT ON MY LIFE AND IS OF NO BENEFIT OR LOSS TO ME. I DON’T GET ENDORSEMENT DEAL MONEY OR BONUSES OR MAKE MONEY OFF OF THE TEAM OR GET A FREE TAX-PAID OFFICE (IE., STADIUM). SO, IT SIMPLY MAKES NO DIFFERENCE TO ME. I’M AM NOT A HOMER (OR AN AWAY-ER).
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL

Jim M on February 1, 2007 at 9:05 pm

Awwww, Dan + Eminem’s Revenge….true love!
Joe Biden likes Eminem’s Revenge, too. Such a nice, clean, young lad.

The_Man on February 1, 2007 at 10:25 pm

Don’t bust La Deb about The Lions. Matt Millen is going to draft a wide receiver in the first round who will lead them to the Super Bowl.

The_Man on February 1, 2007 at 10:27 pm

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