Kansas City, Mo. The mystery surrounding Larry Johnson's foot injury finally has been solved.
Not the injury itself, but the reason the Kansas City Chiefs have been so coy about the extent of it: Johnson didn't want anyone to know.
The subterfuge surrounding Johnson's injury started almost the minute he caught his foot in the turf during a game against Green Bay on Nov. 5, the questions flying from every direction. Was he going to need surgery? Would he play this week or the week after? Is he done for the season? Is the foot broken, as a Denver news station reported?
The Chiefs swatted away every volley, appearing awkward at times as they turned Johnson's status into a John Grisham novel. The verbal labyrinth continued for a brief while Tuesday before general manager Carl Peterson finally gave an explanation for the charade.
"There is something between a doctor and a patient, and if the patient doesn't want the information out there, he's (the doctor) obligated, as we are under the rules of HIPPA, to not go into it," Peterson said. "We're just going to give what we're required to give by the National Football League for a lot of reasons."
Since the injury, the Chiefs have said Johnson had a mid-foot sprain and his status would be evaluated each week. The former Pro Bowler missed the past two games, and coach Herm Edwards said he wouldn't play Sunday at Oakland.
Johnson had tests on the foot Monday, though Edwards evaded questions about the results, saying only that they showed "that he's rehabbing it." When pressed for an answer, Edwards searched for words before Peterson curtly jumped in.
"We're not going to get into medical terms. We said that from the onset," he said.
It hasn't helped that Johnson has stopped talking to the media. The one time he broke the silence, on Peterson's weekly radio show last week, Johnson said nothing about the severity of the injury, only that he expects to play again this season.
The Chiefs might be evasive about the extent of Johnson's injury, but it's obvious they still have hopes he'll return in 2007. Had they thought he was done, Johnson already would have been on injured reserve.
"If we didn't think he's going to play for us, we'd probably make that decision," Peterson said. "Every week we have to put down eight players, injured or not, so it's an easy decision to make unless it's a decision where we know absolutely 100 percent he's finished for the year. But we don't feel that. Our doctors tell us that's not the situation."