And that disciplinary action -- a two-week suspension without pay imposed by Chiefs management, that was later arbitrated by the NFL Management Council, the NFL Players Association, Johnson and the Chiefs to return a week's salary to Johnson -- was neither endorsed nor encouraged by the league office, multiple NFL sources said.
Rather, the NFL told the Chiefs they should avoid issuing a suspension (and encountering the subsequent hearing, NFLPA involvement, settlement, etc.), and simply fine Johnson $10,000.
That was the punishment doled out by the NFL to then-Steelers linebacker Joey Porter in December 2006, when he twice called Browns tight end Kellen Winslow a "f**" following a Pittsburgh victory over Cleveland.
At the time, an NFL spokesman said Porter was fined for "his vulgar and inexcusable statements." Porter apologized, saying he didn't mean to offend anyone "except Winslow." So we can see how effective that monetary punishment was as a teachable moment.
But Porter's $10,000 fine came before the NFL officially issued its now famous get-tough Personal Conduct Policy in 2008, a set of guidelines so strict and so broad in interpretation that it has given commissioner Roger Goodell great latitude to throw the book at numerous high-profile players.
Johnson, as the Chiefs and their fans know all too well, went above and beyond Porter's on-field slur. The running back used numerous homophobic slurs online in a Twitter page battle with fans, and then made another blatant homophobic reference to the media the following day. Johnson did craft a carefully worded apology afterward, which probably paved the way to the suspension settlement.
In Kansas City, sickened fans have had enough of LJ and his mouth, his temper and his attitude. Johnson, who has previously faced accusations of assaulting women in nightclubs and has undergone court-ordered domestic violence counseling for a 2003 battery complaint by an ex-girlfriend, may have twice rushed for over 1,700 yards in a single season, but he has shamed that community enough.
The one-time NFL rushing leader needs 75 yards to break Priest Holmes' all-time franchise rushing record, and an online petition in Kansas City is imploring Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli to either cut the trouble-seeking back or deactivate him on game days, so that he can't reach that sacred milestone.
But why hasn't the NFL office intervened in the case of Johnson, saying only after the incident, "We are in the process of getting the facts," and doing little else publicly?
And, on top of that, why hasn't Goodell and the NFL office taken action beyond the boilerplate "fact-gathering" process to address the case of Raiders coach Tom Cable?
As we know, Cable's alleged training camp assault of assistant coach Randy Hanson will not be prosecuted criminally in Napa County, Calif. But the head coach's interaction with a subordinate employee during a staff meeting clearly caused a serious injury (Hanson's fractured jaw) to occur -- the Napa district attorney's findings confirmed as much -- and that certainly runs afoul of the league's conduct statutes.
The NFL Personal Conduct Policy is all of four pages long, and includes this very sweeping admonition to all NFL players, coaches and employees of what it considers a violation: "Conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL players."
Both Johnson and Cable seem to have done just that.
And isn't it interesting that new NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has not pressured Goodell and the NFL office to impose punishment on Cable for the training camp incident? The alleged domestic violence accusations against Cable by various women in his past are a whole other matter and may not be applicable for fines or suspension, since Cable's admission that he struck his first wife stemmed from an incident two decades ago, before he was an employee of the NFL.
But Smith has failed to ask why the NFL appears reluctant to discipline an offending coach the same way it does its players.
Could it be that Goodell and Smith have a handshake détente in place, setting aside personal conduct battles for now, knowing they'll tackle other serious problems in the coming months -- such as potentially messy and costly negotiations that will either lead to a NFL-imposed lockout or a new Collective Bargaining Agreement?
Starting in 2006, Goodell made good on his promise to protect the integrity and reputation of the NFL and its brand by suspending Pacman Jones, Chris Henry, Tank Johnson and Michael Vick for various off-field legal entanglements. The commissioner's heavy-handed approach was praised, but also met with some criticism. Many speculated how far Goodell would go.
Now, it seems he's not going far enough.
Jailed wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who is serving a two-year prison sentence in New York under a plea deal to a weapons charge, is suspended while he's in the slammer. Once he's out, the NFL says Burress will be reinstated and may sign with any team.
In August, Goodell did the right thing by suspending receiver Donte Stallworth for one season for admittedly driving while legally impaired and striking a pedestrian in a fatal car accident.
Lately, the commissioner has been strangely silent when it comes to keeping the discipline fair and balanced -- against players with collectively-bargained rights, as well as team employees who signed contracts vowing to abide by the conduct standards.
That leaves it up to the individual teams, and their own brands of justice.
So while the Raiders now say they are contemplating what to do with an increasingly controversial Cable, the Chiefs are probably grateful they were able to get Johnson out of their building for two weeks -- he's eligible to return to the premises on Nov. 9 -- and take a one-week chunk of pay from him (about $315,000).
Kansas City, at least, is taking matters into its own hands. Because the NFL clearly won't.