They Don’t Call Charles Johnson “Big Money” for Nothing

Carolina’s premier pass rushers, Charles “Big Money” Johnson and Greg “the Kraken” Hardy, couldn’t have more polar personalities. Described as the “Odd Couple,” the two differ in nearly every respect.  Big Money, or “Chuck,” has the big contract and reticent personality. Not known for being particularly vocal in the locker room, Charlotte News and Observer’s Joe Person describes Johnson as a reluctant leader, and his teammates color him as “professional” and as a “normal guy.”  In contrast, teammates describe “Little Money” Hardy as a “guy who is a little off.”  Hardy’s alter ego, “the Kraken,” highlights his cavalier and domineering personality, which starkly contrasts the unsung hero Charles Johnson.

Greg Hardy ArrestThe national media also reinforces these differences.  Johnson is the reserved and unrecognized star.  Big Money might bring it strong and consistent each week, but he flies under the radar (probably much to his liking).  He’s relentless in the pass rush and strong against the run. Defensive coordinators and offensive tackles know him, and are probably nauseated when game planning for Chuck. His impressive consistency hasn’t garnered any real national appreciation, however.  He’s never made the Pro Bowl.  Most analysts outside of Carolina hardly know his name.

He puts up impressive numbers, but somehow it never captures tremendous attention.

Charles Johnson Stats:

Def Interceptions Fumbles Tackles
Year Tm G GS Sk PD FF Fmb FR Yds TD Tkl
2010 CAR 16 16 11.5 1 51
2011 CAR 15 15 9.0 4 31
2012 CAR 16 16 12.5 4 7 0 1 0 0 31
2013 CAR 14 14 11.0 1 0 1 0 0 28
Career 93 65 54.0 19 11 0 3 0 0 178
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/13/2014.

Greg Hardy’s eager adoption of the “Kraken” persona, in contrast, has made him a national celebrity. The crazy contact lenses, face paint, primetime introduction as “Kraken from Hogwarts” have created media sensation that dominated 2014 free agency talk.  The Kraken’s Super Bowl media tour, where he scared Skip Bayless and publically welcomed the franchise tag as an opportunity to enhance his already astronomical market value, captured the national media spotlight.

Kraken’s statistical production is coincidently resemblant of his flashy personality also.  Compiling 26 sacks over the past season, Hardy has imposed himself on the field.  Hardy accrued these sacks much differently than his counterpart, Big Money.  Johnson has had a steady diet of sacks for the past four years.  Hardy tends to feast heavily and sporadically, often followed by fasting.  66.67% of Hardy’s sacks came in just three games in 2013.   

This production, however, is starkly different to Johnson’s steady diet of sacks. 

Greg Hardy Stats:

Def Interceptions Fumbles Tackles
Year G GS Sk PD FF Fmb FR Yds TD Tkl
2010 15 0 3.0 1 2 0 0 0 0 20
2011 16 16 4.0 11 1 0 0 0 0 38
2012 15 10 11.0 2 2 0 1 0 0 41
2013* 16 13 15.0 1 1 0 0 0 0 40
Career 62 39 33.0 15 6 0 1 0 0 139
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/13/2014.

Hardy’s recent arrest for assault on a female and communicating threats again epitomizes this contrast.  Hardy was described as a flaky guy coming into the league, and has always sought the spotlight, for better or for worse, while he’s been Carolina. Whether it’s posting pictures on Instagram of him going 100 mph in a Bentley or strolling into his first year of training camp bandaged up from a motorcycle accident, questions have always surrounded the Kraken’s character.  Until this week, the questions have been relatively minor and more about maturity than character.  This most recent incident, however, once again raises eyebrows.

Big Money, who has maintained a polished public image, noted this on Twitter after Hardy’s arrest:

The message was simple, unassuming, and perfectly fitting of Johnson’s personality—“Money Over Bitches.” If Big Money knows about anything as much as getting after the quarterback, it is getting after the big contract. Clearly directed at teammate Greg Hardy—don’t let anything come between you and the paper—Johnson’s comments shouldn’t be overlooked. Hardy is at the most important financial junction of his career.  Any opportunity that diminishes a player’s value has to be avoided.  The fame and flash can be fun, but it can’t get in the way of the money.

After Charles Johnson signed his “Big Money” contract, he was asked about his first big purchase. “Honesty,” he stated, “I bought my house that I wanted and it’s been the only real big purchase since. I’m also saving a lot and waiting to see how my career pans out.”

Hardy needs to take a page from the “Big Money” playbook and work on saving his image and money.  This incident will not be cheap.  This will have contract implications, whether direct or indirect.  ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio predicted that Hardy’s arrest will cause his market value to “plummet” on WFNZ’s Mac Attack. At the very minimum, this incident doesn’t give Hardy any added advantage in contract negotiations.  If he misses any workouts or games from suspension, it will cost the Kraken major money.  A one game suspension would result in more than 700k loss for Hardy.

From the outside looking in, the “Kraken” persona has increased Hardy’s market value to this point. The persona can’t become bigger than the player, however.  Listen to your boy Charles Johnson; they don’t call him “Big Money” for nothing.  MOB!