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Tank gets the media's attention; Brown's good fortune continues

MIAMI -- This Super Bowl week has been controversy-free so far, but that doesn't mean it is devoid of a controversial figure.

Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson will be able to play in Super Bowl XLI because a judge gave him permission to leave Illinois following his December arrest on gun charges. He had been under house confinement in Chicago and only allowed to practice and play in the Bears games, which had all been at Soldier Field since the arrest.

Johnson, 25, who has been arrested three times in his three-year Bears career, was already on probation for another weapons charge when police, acting on a tip, raided his Gurnee, Ill., home on Dec. 14 and found six unregistered guns, including two assault rifles, and 500 rounds of ammunition.

Two days later, he went to a Chicago nightclub where his friend and former bodyguard, William Posey, was shot and killed. Posey was at Johnson's home during the raid and was arrested on drug charges. Johnson served a one-game suspension before rejoining the Bears for the playoffs.

Given his legal trouble, Johnson was not surprised to receive so much attention from the media.

"I gave you guys ammunition to write about," he said, unaware of his choice of words. "I understand what the questions are going to be. I wish from the bottom of my heart that someone would ask me about Peyton Manning. But I realize I put myself in a situation that it is not going to be an option."

Johnson insists he's not a bad guy, though having loaded guns at home around his two small daughters didn't do much for his image.

"I've never hurt anyone in my life except quarterbacks and running backs," he said. "I've never been a violent person. People don't understand what kind of man I am, how much I love my kids. First and foremost, I want to be a good father and raise my kids."

Johnson said he's thankful Bears coach Lovie Smith and the franchise didn't turn their backs on him. They may not have had much of a choice because they were thin at defensive tackle after Pro Bowler Tommie Harris suffered a season-ending torn hamstring.

Whether Harris' injury kept Johnson employed is not Johnson's concern. He's more focused on showing people that he has learned from his mistakes.

"You've got to grow up," he said. "You've got to realize there's some things you've got to do."

Like staying out of trouble. The Super Bowl is littered with stories of players who succumbed to the temptations of the streets in the days before the game.

This week, Johnson said he's free "to do what the Super Bowl allows." Fortunately for the Bears, he won't be doing much.

"I might go to dinner or to Subway," he said. "I just want to enjoy this experience for what it is. You couldn't possibly bait me into anything right now. If you punch me in the face, I'll walk away."

***

First, he gets a chance to play in his first Super Bowl. Then he finds out he's going to the Pro Bowl. Can life get any better for Ruben Brown?

"I should play the lottery," the Bears veteran left guard said.

This will be Brown's ninth Pro Bowl appearance. He was added to the NFC roster as an injury replacement. He was voted in eight times when he played for the Buffalo Bills.

Although Brown didn't have much to prove, it is satisfying to him that he's shown people he had a lot of football left in him after being discarded by the Bills three years ago.

"I wanted to show everybody that," he said. "I wanted to know whether I could still do it. Believe me, my first camp with Lovie I thought I couldn't do it. It was a tough camp. But I always loved the game. That's why I fought through it because I wanted to play. I'm just fortunate I fought through it and by fighting through it, I got here."

***

Aaron Moorhead was 5 years old when his father, Emery, started at tight end for the Bears in Super Bowl XX. Twenty-one years after winning a ring, dad will get a chance to watch his son try to do the same in Super Bowl XLI.

The problem is Aaron plays wide receiver for the Colts. So rooting for his son means the elder Moorehead must root against his former team. What's a father to do?

Emery, a Chicago-area real estate agent, said earlier this week that he's pulling for his son. Aaron isn't so sure.

"He's not necessarily 100 percent or anything," Aaron said. "He's kind of on the fence right now. He wants me to do well. He wants us to win. He's been a Bears fan his whole life. He loves the fans in Chicago. He feels like the fans in Chicago definitely deserve another championship."

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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