09-14-2006, 06:17 AM #1
The big 3-8 for Brad: Vikings believe in quarterback Johnson
Posted on Wed, Sep. 13, 2006
[size=13pt]The big 3-8 for Brad: Vikings believe in quarterback Johnson[/size]
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Clearly, Brad Johnson was having a happy birthday.
"No birthday cake? No rocking chair?" he said with a smile to start his weekly question-and-answer session with the media at Minnesota's practice facility.
Johnson, for the record, turned 38 on Wednesday, but there are no signs that he is slowing. The Vikings' season-opening victory against the Washington Redskins was a vintage performance by Johnson, who completed only 16 passes but didn't turn the ball over and helped rally his team in a road game.
Comfortable with the low-risk, spread-it-around offense installed by new coach Brad Childress, confident in Minnesota's ability to compete for a playoff spot, and a proud husband and father, Johnson seems to be enjoying life these days.
Sure, the Vikings have not readdressed his contract, which pays him $1.2 million this year, woefully under market value, but Johnson has refused to discuss that subject publicly. Certainly not on his birthday, with a positive vibe floating in the locker room at Winter Park.
No, Johnson was too busy talking about eating cake and ice cream at home with his wife and boys after football duties were done for the day and shrugging off suggestions that he's too old to succeed.
"It doesn't really matter, but you wish they would write something besides the age," Johnson said. "It seems like's a trickle effect. ... You look at all the articles, that's the way I'm explained or described. I'm eager to come to work. I love it. I feel like I'm 25 or 26. A lot of these young guys, they kind of fall asleep in meetings."
When Johnson first arrived in Minnesota as a rookie in 1992, Wade Wilson, Sean Salisbury and Rich Gannon were the other quarterbacks.
"I remember calling my dad, telling him I thought they were kind of old guys and they would be out of the league pretty fast. They all played a pretty long time, but to play up until 38 years old? I never thought I would see that day."
Hall of Famer Warren Moon, who joined the Vikings when he was 37, got hurt in 1996, allowing Johnson to take over as the starter. Moon played in his ninth Pro Bowl at age 41, with the Seattle Seahawks, a standard that Johnson has aimed for ever since.
"As we've seen Monday, he's still got it," said Troy Williamson, who dropped three passes but caught four for 77 yards and didn't detect a loss of confidence in him from the coaching staff or the quarterback.
Teammates have always had confidence in Johnson, mostly because of his experience, competitiveness and poise - though a Super Bowl ring from the 2002-03 season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers doesn't hurt, either. He rarely gets riled up, except apparently when he throws a touchdown pass against one of his former employers.
When Johnson connected with Marcus Robinson for a 20-yard score in the third quarter of Monday night's game, television cameras caught him screaming repeatedly in celebration - a seemingly out-of-character moment for the easygoing guy who grew up in the mountains in North Carolina.
"I was happy for him, man," cornerback Antoine Winfield said, laughing. "That's the only time I've ever seen him show emotion, when he throws a touchdown pass."
Three teams, including Minnesota in 1999, have given up on Johnson in his career, and skepticism about his arm strength and mobility has always surrounded him. So it's not a surprise to see him show some spunk on the field.
"He's very even keel, but when something really good happens he gets emotional," tight end Jermaine Wiggins said.
"If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"
09-14-2006, 06:35 AM #2
Re: The big 3-8 for Brad: Vikings believe in quarterback Johnson
[size=13pt]Johnson turns 38, but says he's not feeling his age[/size]
Kevin Seifert And Judd Zulgad, Star Tribune staff writers
Last update: September 13, 2006 â€“ 9:22 PM
Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson gently chided a handful of reporters Wednesday at the start of his weekly news conference.
"No birthday cake?" Johnson said, smiling. "No rocking chair?"
Johnson turned 38 Wednesday, extending his lead as the NFL's oldest starting quarterback. Next in line is Washington's 36-year-old Mark Brunell, whom Johnson outplayed in Monday night's 19-16 victory.
Johnson, who compiled an 88.6 rating while completing 16 of 30 passes for 223 yards, said he hopes he won't be known as "38-year-old quarterback Brad Johnson" all season.
"You look at all the articles, and that's the way I'm explained or described," he said. "I'm eager to come to work. I love it. I feel like I'm 25 or 26. A lot of these young guys, they kind of fall asleep in meetings. I'm ready to go, so I'm probably a little younger than some of these guys, actually."
Rookie safety Greg Blue did not find out he would be starting in place of Dwight Smith on Monday night until he stepped into the visitor's locker room at FedEx Field. Defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin approached Blue and simply asked, "Do you want to start the game?"
Blue, who finished with six tackles, said nerves did not get the best of him. That was in part because of the support he received from the veterans on defense.
"Everybody gave me encouragement and we had a lot of communication out on the field in case anybody was on the wrong page or whatever," Blue said.
Smith, who apparently was deactivated as a disciplinary measure for a police citation he received last month, said he was proud of Blue.
"He looked good," said Smith, who is expected to start Sunday against Carolina. "I know it's tough for a young guy to get a call that quick to say that you're going to be starting. But he answered the challenge and that shows what type of guy he is."
â€¢The Vikings listed running back Ciatrick Fason (shoulder) and safety Will Hunter (hamstring) as probable for Sunday's game. They both practiced Wednesday.
â€¢Although Childress continued to call him an "option," the Vikings did not sign Quincy Morgan and it appears the receiver and kick returner could be headed to Denver. Morgan's agent, Brian Overstreet, said his client is scheduled to have a visit with the Broncos in the coming days.
"He may get a deal," from the Broncos, Overstreet said. "But nothing is imminent." Overstreet made it clear the Vikings remain Morgan's top choice but feels the team's interest has cooled since it signed receiver Maurice Mann off Seattle's practice squad last week.
â€¢Sunday's game essentially is sold out and will be shown on KMSP (Ch. 9) as scheduled, according to Steve LaCroix, vice president of sales and marketing. The only tickets remaining will be those returned by Carolina later this week, typically about 400.
â€¢Packers coach Mike McCarthy told Green Bay reporters that receiver Koren Robinson, signed earlier this week, could play Sunday against New Orleans -- possibly as a kick returner. "We're going to ease him in this week, but I don't want to get into specifics," McCarthy said.
â€¢The Vikings' game captains for this week will be center Matt Birk, safety Darren Sharper and tight end Richard Owens
"If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"
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