Former Super Bowl winning quarterback Brad Johnson successfully played the toughest position in football for 17 seasons in the National Football League (NFL).
Known for his great decision making, leadership and toughness, Johnson traded in his cleats to coach and focus on his faith and family. Johnson grew up in the small town of Black Mountain, N.C., where he overcame the odds to go on to a long and successful football career. He led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001 to their only Super Bowl title.
Johnson discussed his NFL experience, his college days at Florida State University and the responsibility to the next generation of leaders in America.
Q: You are from Black Mountain N.C., where you attended high school; it is also the site of a very famous Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Football Camp. What is special to you about that camp?
A: It was a small town. I loved it there. Of course most everybody knows about the FCA Black Mountain Football camp. My dad ran Camp Ridgecrest for 25 years, and Camp Winshape, a Chick Fil-A camp in Atlanta.
Q: What are the biggest changes in being a QB now and back when you played?
Brad Johnson, left, led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title in 2001. Johnson is the only quarterback in the history of the NFL to complete 60 percent or more of his passes for nine straight seasons.
A: The game has grown tremendously. Now … the kids in junior high, high school and college are just so much farther ahead than we were.
When I was playing, the coach called the play and you ran the play called in the huddle.
Kids today in high school have hand signals from the sidelines and can change plays. We did not do that until I was in college. Kids see the game through video, and they play video games.
They see and understand the game better. Their knowledge is so far ahead at an earlier age. The skill level is so much better earlier.
All of these guys are big. They can make all the necessary throws. It just has evolved from decade to decade. These guys are just a lot of fun to watch play the position.
Q: You decided to attend college and play for the great Bobby Bowden at Florida State. What impact did coach Bowden’s faith have on you then and today?
A: We were surrounded by great players … a great program. If you’re just trying to win a job, or a game, or a Heisman, or trying to win a national championship or a Super Bowl, it’s so temporary.
Yes, it’s hard to get, and it’s a great reward to get it. But if it’s your whole life, you’re just missing the boat. You really need to give your life to Christ, and submit and live for Him and through Him. Everything else is just temporary.
Those things: awards, trophies, other things like that, just rust.
Q: This generation of young people need direction in a big way. What has changed in them from a generation ago?
A: Coming from a small town in Black Mountain, I had goals.
I wanted to be the best I could in high school, get a scholarship to college, and play in the pros. I always felt like I was the underdog and had to work for everything that I got.
Nowadays there is so much exposure: little league, high school and college games played on TV.
When we were in college, all you wanted to do was say, ‘Hi mom’ on TV. That was a big deal.
My kids are 9 and 11 years old wondering when their game will be on TV. So much is given to these kids at an early age. … I think too much is put on them.
Kids need to be grounded and taught by their parents, teachers and coaches in the right way, at an early age in a positive way.
If you’re not raised in the right way by your parents, then it’s going to be a struggle later on in life.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roman Gabriel III is president of Sold Out Ministries. He hosts Sold Out Sports, which is heard Saturday at 8 p.m. EST on American Family Radio. He is an evangelist and motivational speaker. Contact him at (910) 431-6483 or email [email protected]. His website is soldouttv.com.)