What a friend we have in Johnson.

A former Florida running back now coaching high school football in Broward County told me one time that you have to have your fair share of thugs to win college and NFL football games.

Joseph Goodman, Gator Clause, June 10, 2009

I hate to say it, but I don’t doubt that’s a popular attitude, and not one confined to Gainesville, Florida, either.  Although I’d qualify it by saying that a certain type of, um, marginally lawful person is required.  A starting thug, if you will.

So color me less than impressed with this “ride with a cop” deal Urban’s come up with to combat the negative PR his program has received lately.  It’s window dressing – something that Meyer can reference when he gets that pesky preseason question from the media about whether his program is out of control.

Although I do have to admit to being somewhat gobsmacked by this admission – “We are by no means perfect.” (And yeah, judging from the rest of his quote, that’s the imperial “we” he’s using there.)

Of course, Meyer doesn’t need to be perfect, as long as this guy is.

… Huntley Johnson isn’t on the University of Florida‘s payroll. He’s not on the UF football program’s payroll, either. But the Gainesville-based attorney might just be the Gators‘ most valuable player other than Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow.

Johnson is the go-to Gator for UF football players who find trouble with the law. He has handled 23 of the 24 football-related legal cases the Orlando Sentinel documented during Meyer’s four years as Florida’s head coach.

And he pretty much is.

… Sentinel research shows that of the 23 cases handled by Johnson, 21 resulted in dropped charges, a plea deal or pre-trial deferment plans that help first-time offenders avoid charges after fulfilling court-ordered stipulations.

The remaining two cases are unresolved, including sophomore cornerback Janoris Jenkins’ arrest two weeks ago on charges of affray and resisting an officer. Eight felony cases have been reduced to misdemeanors or thrown out of court.

“As far as the legal aspect, he’s the [team's] MVP,” said Cecil Newton, the father of former Gators quarterback Cam Newton.

Awesome.  When’s he getting his own page in the media guide?

Don’t get me wrong here.  Most schools have their own version of Huntley Johnson running interference.  It’s just that it seems they haven’t been able to combine sanctimony and volume in the way that the Gators have lately.

And I’m not sure if any are as fortunate to be located in a jurisdiction where local law enforcement seems so darned understanding.

… State Attorney Bill Cervone, who talks to Johnson almost daily, said his office might expedite investigations of football players to avoid amplified media coverage, but athletes are not treated differently than other students.

“Many of these cases just aren’t that severe and don’t take that much time to investigate,” Cervone said.

It’s nice when a plan comes together like that.  Go Gators!

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33 Comments

Filed under Crime and Punishment, Gators, Gators...

33 responses to “What a friend we have in Johnson.

  1. Dog in Fla

    Pardon me, you need to be bailed out: down here, the correct sentence is “Go Gator!”

    • Actually, when I wrote that, I was thinking of that UF promo that runs during games where Gator alums run into each other mouthing that phrase.

      They could film a new piece comprised of Gator defendants walking in and out of courthouses and Johnson’s office saying that. I’d pay to watch that one.

      • Dog in Fla

        Excellent…if the Go Gators! crimes don’t fit, you got to aquit. Except that Huntley is so locked in the zone as the defense lawyer du jour, it doesn’t even reach that stage because charges v. Gators he defends are usually dropped well in advance of any trial.

        That’s a big deal to Urban and Urban will not forget it and neither will Urban’s football players. And when Urban writes it in his next book, it will be ghostwritten out of the book.

        Since when did squeezing off a few rounds of semi-automatic weapons fire, bar fighting and making cops taze you in the ‘Don’t Taze Me, Bro’ town become a prosecutable crime anyway? What kind of college town doesn’t realize that kids will be kids? Law and Order Alachua County.

    • Bill Chandler

      Huntley Johnson was a hateful, mean spirited child growing up in Pensacola. He taunted and ridiculed the less fortunate — even those with disabilities. It does not surprise me that this smarmy character is now the self professed ambulance chaser of Gator thugs in personal train wrecks of character and decency.

  2. Pingback: EDSBS » Archive » CURIOUS INDEX, 6/15/09

  3. Hobnail_Boot

    “Gator Football: Turning Cons Into Pros!”

  4. Mr. Sanchez

    I’m sure if you go through the charges (not ticky tack traffic stuff, but the ones which need an attorney), you’d find a very high percentage of our athletes using one particular Athens lawyer as well. But as you note, many schools with big time athletics programs have a similar person helping their athletes. The difference for Florida, as you also allude, is this guy…
    http://www.sao8.org/ABOUT%20WILLIAM%20CERVONE.htm

    • Dog in Fla

      Are you trying to say that there seem to be darned understanding Gators crawling all over the place?

  5. Mike In Valdosta

    eh um, Ed Tolley was doing a pretty fine job for us until one Tony Cole arrived on campus.

  6. Ty Durden

    smells like The Program to me

  7. Bill Chervone, now there is a guy that needs to be checked on. I live down here and might trust urban crier before him.

  8. LL

    Georgia’s had 30 players arrested since 2005 and you’re finding fault Florida’s handling of their arrests?

    • When it comes to off-field incidents, quantity does not equal quality. Once Georgia players start getting arrested for firing off AK-47s, stealing dead people’s credit cards, or being tasered rather than parking improperly with a scooter; then we can compare apples to apples.

      • LL

        The Author’s post was about the “number” of Florida arrests and the “number” of arrests that were handled by one specific Attorney.

        I state the fact that UGA has had more arrests during that same time frame and now it’s “but, but, but ours weren’t as serious.”

        Agree to disagree.

        • Oh, no doubt. 30 arrests is embarassing to us alumni because the reflects poorly on us since the actions of our football players are the only way most of the nation views us. So I don’t discount that at all. Like you said, this is just an agree to disagree situation. While I’d like the arrest # to be closer to 0 than to 50, I can deal with the arrests being related to traffic violations a lot better than guns or things like that.

        • Actually, my post was about the amusing sanctimony from Gator Nation in the wake of the bad publicity.

          If you read what I wrote, you noticed that I was careful to say that UF was far from the only place where (1) kids got into legal trouble and (2) the school found a go-to defense attorney to grease the skids. So I really could care less about the numbers. It’s about how you guys rationalize this stuff. Care to tell me how many Gator fans/message board posters/bloggers characterized Georgia’s players as “thugs” for running on the field during a game and drawing a penalty? Hell, if it had been up to Franz Beard, Mark Richt would have been arrested for inciting a riot. I can see how that would overshadow a player using a dead girl’s credit card in your minds.

          So the shoe’s on the other foot today. It’s got to suck now that Urban’s “1% of the 1%” narrative is being questioned. What’s going on in Gainesville may be an alien concept to some of you folks, bless your hearts, but most of us know it as damage control. And if you want to believe that putting Gator players in police cars is going to have a bigger impact on keeping players on the roster than Mr. Johnson’s efforts, feel free to delude yourself.

          • Mike In Valdosta

            Since there are so many urnge clads on the Dawg blogs I think I will start keeping up with their blogs. Can anyone recommend a site to start pestering?

            • LL

              Mike-
              This thread was linked from a blog run by a Gator Alum (www.edsbs.com). That’s how I came across it.

          • LL

            “It’s got to suck now that Urban’s “1% of the 1%” narrative is being questioned.”

            lol. Nah, it doesn’t suck.

            And no one is disputing that this is “damage control”. He’s got to do something. 4 arrests are ridiculous much less 24.

            • I hate dealing with reasonable Florida fans. ;)

              I know you realize that I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek there. That being said, what’s being proposed doesn’t sound like much of a serious solution. It’s just something that Meyer can point to when Herbstreit asks the inevitable arrest question.

              Welcome to our world – Richt got asked the same “out of control” questions by the media last year.

              • LL

                Senator-
                I agree. It’s not much of a serious, long-term solution. I wish Meyer would do more in regards to punishment – like maybe suspend the arrested Player(s) for a conference game instead of one against a D-II school – but I digress.

                Yeah, with all the expectations this year it’s a question he’s going to have to answer over and over.

    • Dog in Fla

      If we didn’t find fault with Florida, who would?

  9. Scooters vs Guns. NOF SAID!

  10. AuditDawg, BEAUTIFUL.

  11. Dog in Fla

    Upon reflection, it could be just an allusion that their johnson seems to be a bigger and better fit if and only if you use and accept their time-honored felony charges brought, aren’t that ‘severe,’ don’t take much time to investigate, dropped charges, plea deals and pre-trial deferment standards as being reality-based.

    If so, is being charged with a felony that is, or with felonies that are, quickly dropped, pled to or deferred quicker than a cat can lick its ass, a prerequisite to being able to enter the Ride with a Cop, this time in the front seat, not the back seat, Program and, if so, is it graded pass/fail?

  12. Go Huntley

    Huntley is the Reggie F’n Nelson of Criminal Defense.

  13. NM

    Somebody want to ask this lawyer for the cancelled checks written by the players? Or did they all “pay” in “cash” so there just happens to not be a record of them paying, but trust me, I’m not giving any improper benefits here…

  14. Mike In Valdosta

    This whole “ride along” program is starting to sound like some type of frequent flyer deal.