There have been quite a few NFL athletes to make a trip to the big house in the past few seasons. Mike Vick has made a huge comeback after spending just under two years in prison for running an illegal dog fighting ring. Plaxico Burress was just released from prison for shooting himself in the leg in a New York City night club. Those are just two of many.
The Bengals are no strangers to players who have had some legal troubles off the field. Owner Mike Brown has been known for taking risks on some shady players. Sometimes it has worked out, like in the case of Cedric Benson and Adam Jones (so far) and sometimes it doesn't, like Odell Thurman and A.J. Nickolson.
The Toronto Sun recently wrote an article with their top-10 athletes that have bounced back from prison sentences. On that list of course are NFL players Mike Vick and Jamal Lewis and they're joined by Mike Tyson. And of course, I wouldn't be writing about this if the Bengals didn't have a representative on the team.
That representative is defensive tackle Tank Johnson, who came in at No. 7.
The first of three NFLers on the list (yes, it could have included many, many more), Johnson has a rap sheet that any career criminal would be envious of. Legal troubles led to the defensive tackle being waived in 2007 by the Chicago Bears, who put up with plenty of arrests and a two-month stint in the can for violating probation on a gun charge before letting him go. Proving that convicted felons often get multiple chances to screw up, Johnson also played for the Dallas Cowboys and is now with the Cincinnati Bengals, the new home for wayward boys.
Just in cast you didn't know, Johnson had a thing for guns while he was in Chicago. He was first charged with owning an illegal firearm, which was in his car, in Nov. of 2005. He pled guilty to that misdemeanor. Then, just over a year later, police searched his home and found enough guns, including two assault rifles, to arm a small militia. After a probation violation and a couple other charges, the Bears decided they were done.
Some time later, Johnson made his way to Cincinnati to play for the Bengals. He has stepped up and become a vocal leader and helped younger guys come into their own and it's been good to see that his obsession with guns seems to be gone. Hopefully he can focus that energy on helping the Bengals defense earn a top-five ranking again and help the team get back to where they were in 2009 and beyond.