Most people wouldn’t mind the life of an NFL running back. Get paid millions of dollars to play a game. Larry Johnson was a number 1 draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2003. He made the pro bowl and in August 2007 signed a contract that was to pay him $45 million dollars through 2012, the biggest contract in Chiefs’ history.
Along the way Larry was arrested a few times, was sued, and even got into social networking. The latter would be his downfall. Johnson maintains a website, blog, and has a twitter account. Twitter has been a big player this year in the life of the professional athlete. Players have used it to criticize coaches, management, and fans. Johnson was no exception.
First he took on his Coach Todd Haley. Then he had a few exchanges with Chiefs’ fans:
Along the way Johnson made a slur about gays and seemed to alienate everyone. He was suspended by the Chiefs and on the day he was to return was waived – purportedly for another tweet. It also didn’t help that 32,000 Chiefs’ fans signed a petition demanding his waiver.
Johnson is an extreme example of an employer’s reaction to inappropriate social media use. Employers should not tolerate employees engaging in verbal warfare with customers a.k.a. fans. Johnson cost himself a few million dollars exercising his free speech.