Twitter slur lands Larry Johnson in hot water

Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson faces suspension after he used a homophobic slur on his Twitter account.

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    The Kansas City Chiefs' Larry Johnson lashed out on Twitter Sunday, using a homophobic slur. Here, he tries to escape San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on Sunday.
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The Kansas City Chiefs' Larry Johnson, once an explosive running back on the football field, has launched into the national consciousness this week, but not for his achievements on the gridiron.

After the Chiefs' 37-7 drubbing at the hands of the San Diego Chargers Sunday, Johnson used his Twitter account to question the credentials of the Chiefs' head coach:

“my father got more creditentials than most of these pro coaches. … google my father!!!!!!!”
“My father played for the coach from 'rememeber the titans'. Our coach played golf. My father played for redskins briefley. Our coach. Nuthn”

When another user brought up an altercation between Johnson and a female nightclub patron last year – Johnson reportedly spit in the woman's face, and subsequently plead guilty to disturbing the peace – Johnson lashed out, posting a tweet with a homophobic slur.

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He has since issued an apology.

The use of Twitter for an outburst like this from an celebrity is becoming all too common. Though there have been plenty of controversial Twitter moves – the Meghan McCain photo flap and the saga of Redskins linebacker Robert Henson come to mind – this case raises new questions about the medium.

"We are in somewhat of a murky area. It's not as if we have precedent for someone going on Twitter and slamming his coach and issuing a slur the way that Larry Johnson did," ESPN's Adam Shefter said.

Johnson's account has since been changed to "protected," blocking his tweets from public view.

The Chiefs on Tuesday barred Johnson from all team activities, and a suspension from the league – and even a trade from the Chiefs – has been widely discussed.

Johnson's father on Tuesday told the Kansas City Star that his son's behavior saddened him. "That's just not who we are and not what we believe," he said. "It's not how he was raised."

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), which had demanded that the NFL discipline Johnson, sees the situation as an opportunity for more dialogue on the use of anti-gay epithets.

"We are continuing to call on the NFL and the Kansas City Chiefs to use this unfortunate incident as a way to educate and start a dialogue with players and fans regarding the dangers of homophobia in sports," GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios told USA Today.

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