With friends like Keith Bulluck … why would Chris Johnson need any enemies?
On Tennessee sports radio this week, Bulluck, a one-time All-Pro linebacker who averaged 102 tackles for the Titans from 2002-06, took a surprise shot at Johnson, characterizing the running back as a selfish player who often puts himself above the team’s success (or lack thereof).
"He’s a friend of mine, but when it comes to athlete, he’s a ‘me’ person. He’s a ‘me’ person when it comes to the athlete," Bulluck said about Johnson. "For the years that he’s been there, it’s never been his fault why he didn’t have a good running game or why he didn’t have a good game. It was always somebody else’s fault."
For what it’s worth, Johnson is rumored to be on the chopping block with Tennessee sometime this offseason — partly due to a 2014 salary north of $8 million (various sources). From 2008-13, the Titans posted just two winning seasons and one playoff berth.
So, Bulluck doesn’t have a problem singling out his "friend" for the Titans’ rushing woes in recent years. On the flip side, if the retired linebacker had called up Tennessee’s stats, he’d realize that Johnson has compiled at least 1,400 total yards in all six NFL seasons and averaged 9.6 touchdowns a year.
Yes, Johnson — one of seven backs in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a single campaign (Eric Dickerson, Adrian Peterson, Jamal Lewis, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, O.J. Simpson) — has the capacity to flirt with 2,000 yards every season, given his lightning-fast speed and elite-level cutting acumen.
In that vain, perhaps Johnson has been a mild underachiever since amassing 2,509 total yards and 16 touchdowns in 2009.
But it’s also worth noting that none of the above runners ever hit the 2,000-yard rushing mark in multiple NFL seasons. And at age 28, Johnson certainly has a two- or three-year window to become the first to accomplish the hallowed feat — along with Adrian Peterson.
Plus, Johnson has been a consistently versatile threat in the Tennessee passing game, averaging 54.5 catches in his career. He also tallied four receiving TDs last year.
Bulluck might also be smarting from Johnson’s lack of communication with new Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt. But once again, it comes down to semantics: Why get chummy with a coach or an administration that’s likely keen on dropping you when the time’s right?
"If I wanted to (stay with the Titans) and it was important to me, I would make it my duty — especially considering I have a house there — I would make it my business to get in and say, ‘Look, what’s going on, blah, blah, blah,’" said Bulluck. "Even if I’m not going to be on the team, just to meet (Whisenhunt and his staff). It’s just professionalism. But, I will say, different strokes for different folks. Some people are too cool for school, some people don’t get it, they don’t get how things work."