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Updated: September 21st, 2011 12:13pm
Tyrell Johnson apologizes for arrest; Vikings plan to play him Sunday

Tyrell Johnson apologizes for arrest; Vikings plan to play him Sunday

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Coach Leslie Frazier said the Minnesota Vikings will handle Tyrell Johnson's drunk-driving arrest internally, but any discipline apparently won't affect the fourth-year safety's status for Sunday's game against Detroit.

"We plan on him playing," Frazier said on Wednesday morning, roughly 33 hours after Johnson was booked into Hennepin County Jail on a fourth-degree DWI charge early Tuesday morning.

It was the second known drunk-driving arrest for a Vikings player in as many months. Fourth-string quarterback Rhett Bomar remained with the team after his Aug. 8 arrest near the team's training camp in Mankato, then was released in the first round of cuts a few weeks later.

"It's always disappointing when guys fall short in different areas," Frazier said. "But I know that those things are going to happen. It does happen. It happens with my own kids. Just got to be able to deal with it when it does happen."

Johnson, 26, offered a public apology in a brief session with reporters in the locker room.

"I made a mistake," Johnson said. "I'm very regretful for the mistake, and I'm very blessed and fortunate that no one got hurt in my mistake and selfishness. I'm willing to take the necessary steps to do what it takes to get back on track and earn everybody's trust back."

Asked what those steps are, Johnson said, "Just come in and continue to work, do my job and just showing that I'm truly, genuinely sorry for the mistake. I want to let the rest of the world know that I'm sorry for the mistake and just try to get better."

Frazier said the team never has had discipline issues with Johnson on or off the field in the past. The former second-round draft pick has been splitting time with Jamarca Sanford at strong safety.

If convicted, Johnson could face a fine and possibly a suspension from the NFL. But as a first-time offender, precedent suggests the league is unlikely to take action based solely on an arrest.

"The league has parameters that they've worked within and so do we as a club," Frazier said. "We have some team rules that we hope our players will abide by, and there are consequences when they don't. We handle that from within."

Johnson said Frazier told him to "keep your head up, but I do have to regain trust and work my way back and continue to work like I've been doing."

Like all NFL teams, the Vikings offer a safe-ride program, giving players cards with a number to call if they need to get home.

"You have to use those," Johnson said." Just for advice to everybody else, whoever gets in that situation -- it's not worth it. You've got to make that call. If you can't drive home or even if you think you're good, you're not good. By law, you're not good, and you just need to -- whatever you need to do, get a room or call somebody.

"It's no embarrassment in that. This is more embarrassing than calling somebody would ever be."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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