What kind of role models do they give to young players, and how do they create an environment that encourages the growth of young people who have potential to become great players?”
“In addition, I have seen some great coaches and mentors do a lot to help players and prepare them for the league. These are people who have earned the right to do that job and help those who haven’t. What does it take for them to stay committed to players while they’re in college, and to do that while also pursuing their professional potential?
“I believe the answer is to get more people with experience in the coaching, scouting and player development world that don’t have that experience working in a pro sports league. I believe they’re going there to have a real positive impact on society.
“The other thing I see are organizations like the AFL that are not willing to have the burden of a player and family life (especially if they have kids at home). It’s a real issue that we need to look at and get to the bottom of.”
In addition to his son, Johnson has a daughter who is in college in Indiana, who he is raising with his wife.
He sees his current position as representing players, particularly young players, who are often overlooked and unappreciated.
“If there’s any one thing I do and have done that has ever really helped improve the level of play in the NFL, it’s being a representative of the players. If the player didn’t know me, they wouldn’t think I’m anything but a player.
“It’s a great honor as a person, to be representing the league on a grand scale and to speak not only for the players, but also for young men who are playing the game as well and the NFL.
“If this continues to trend like it’s done, and if there are not more great individuals who believe that the NFL is their only pathway into professional opportunities, then we’re going to start to see more young men in the league who don’t have the necessary background and credentials to be successful and stay there.”
In many ways, Johnson says he’s hoping that the perception of the league continues to change as more and more teams, including some of his former teams, decide it’s time to grow up.
As it stands now, he sees the NFL as lacking talent and direction. He feels there’s a need for a real leadership corps in this league, something that the CFL has been able to