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Bears Tank Johnson Joins PacMan Jones in Idiot Fantasy League

Arizona- Before leaving the field Wednesday after the Bears’ final off-season workout before training camp in five weeks, coach Lovie Smith talked about the parting words of wisdom he left with his players.

“The same advice I give them always,” Smith said. “We can improve our team during the break. We’ve gotten in this position because guys work hard, and that’s what we’re going to do. … “Of course we have a lot of time, [so] we’d like to continue to stay out of trouble.”

Tank Johnson was among the players there who heard Smith. But it’s unclear whether Johnson listened in light of what happened early Friday morning.

In what is becoming a ritual at Halas Hall, the Bears began gathering information Friday about a police incident involving Johnson that could affect the length of his eight-game NFL suspension—if not his standing with the team.

Gilbert, Ariz., police pulled Johnson over at 3:30 a.m. Friday and issued a citation for “being impaired to the slightest degree,” according to police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Duncan.

Police initially stopped Johnson at the corner of Gilbert and Park avenues for going 40 m.p.h. in a 25-m.p.h. zone when the officer on the scene “made observations that led him to believe Johnson was impaired,” according to Duncan.

Police didn’t release any information related to where Johnson had been before being pulled over.

Johnson was taken to the Gilbert police station, where blood was drawn to determine his blood-alcohol content.

Results of those tests aren’t expected for up to two weeks, Duncan said.

In Arizona, like most states, the legal limit for being under the influence is having a blood-alcohol content of at least .08 percent.

Johnson has not been charged with DUI. If Johnson exceeded .08, he could be charged with driving under the influence.

If he wasn’t past the legal limit, Johnson still faces the charge of “being impaired to the slightest degree,” according to Duncan.

Gilbert prosecutors also might decide not to file any charges if blood tests reveal a level lower than .08.

Driving while being impaired to the slightest degree is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona.

Bruce Owens of the Gilbert prosecutor’s office said the minimum penalty for such an offense is one day in jail, up to $1,800 in fines, a suspended license for at least 30 days, alcohol counseling, a Mothers Against Drunk Driving course and unsupervised probation.

During the terms of the probation, if convicted, Johnson wouldn’t be allowed to consume alcohol. Owens added Johnson’s past arrests “wouldn’t play a whole lot into,” this situation if those past incidents weren’t alcohol-related.

The officer at the scene reported Johnson “was very cooperative,” and was released on his own recognizance after the blood tests, police said.

The Bears issued a statement that only confirmed their awareness of the situation.

“We are aware Tank was pulled over early Friday morning in Arizona,” the statement read. “We currently are gathering facts regarding the incident. We will withhold further comment until we have more information.”

NFL Vice President of Public Relations Greg Aiello said the league would have no comment on the matter either.

Johnson’s lawyer, Lorna Propes, had no comment Friday afternoon and said she similarly was in the process of finding out exactly what happened.

Attempts to reach Johnson and his family in Arizona were unsuccessful.

Minimally, the incident likely will cost Johnson two games. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said earlier this month that Johnson’s eight-game suspension could be reduced to six if he had “no further adverse involvement with law enforcement.”

Getting pulled over at 3:30 a.m. for speeding and being under the suspicion of DUI likely would qualify as “adverse involvement.”

If charged or convicted even of the lesser charge of “being impaired,” Johnson could face an additional suspension from either the league or the team that, in effect, could wipe out his 2007 season.

In other words, Johnson’s decision to stay out late during his first night home could impact the Bears’ depth at defensive tackle in their quest to return to the Super Bowl.

Prosecutors in Lake and Cook counties, where Johnson faced legal trouble after a raid on his Gurnee home earlier this year, said Friday’s incident in Arizona would not affect him in Illinois.

“The case is over and he served his time,” Cook County Assistant State’s Atty. Rick Cenar said. In May, Johnson completed 60 days of a 120-day sentence in Cook County Jail after pleading guilty to violating his probation on a 2005 weapons conviction.

Johnson also pleaded guilty in May in Lake County to possession of a firearm without a valid Illinois Firearm Owner’s Identification Card, a misdemeanor charge that could have carried a sentence of up to a year in jail.

In exchange for his plea, Johnson was sentenced to 45 days in jail with credit for time served in Cook County. He also was ordered to donate $2,500 to the Gurnee Exchange Club and another $2,500 to the Gurnee Police Department’s D.A.R.E. program.

“Our case is closed,” Lake County Assistant State’s Atty. Mary Stanton said. “He’s not on probation or conditional discharge.”

If the Bears are fed up with dealing with Johnson after giving him multiple chances to return in good standing, they might consider how to address his future with the team.

Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo have been Johnson’s biggest supporters but must be disappointed with Johnson for putting himself in such a position.

Johnson had just returned to his home state of Arizona after the Bears wrapped up organized team activities Wednesday.


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