Sunday, February 7, 2016

Johnson Perseveres

Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is coaching while battling cancer in his spine.

Johnson Perseveres


Jim Johnson, looking gaunt and sallow, leaned heavily on a cane to cover the few steps across the NovaCare stage to the seat behind the podium.

Clearly, Johnson's fight against metastasized cancer discovered on his spine during the Eagles' playoff run is taking a lot out of the defensive coordinator, who turns 68 on May 26. But just as clearly, Johnson is committed to doing his job as long as he can.

"I feel good," Johnson said today, in his first remarks to the media since his diagnosis was made public, the weekDonovan McNabb visits with scooter-bound Jim Johnson during minicamp of the Super bowl. "I appreciate all the concern about my injury, I really do, from the fans and you guys. I feel good. I'm still going through treatment. The biggest thing I'm trying to get now is some pain out of my back. I've got some broken bones in the lower part. It (doesn't allow) me to be on my feet quite as much. But everything else, I feel fine, and I just keep working at it."

Johnson said activities like this weekend's minicamp, arduous as they might be, are "a big part of my life. It keeps me going."

More coverage
VOTE: Should the Eagles draft a top QB?
Download FREE Philly Sports Now app for iPhone!
FORUMS: Could Nick Foles return?
Latest NFL odds
SHOP: Eagles Training Camp sportswear

Johnson lauded his assistants. Secondary coach Sean McDermott was the de facto coordinator when Johnson took leave for surgery and treatment earlier in the offseason.

"It's something you deal with every day," Johnson acknowledged. "Sure it affects your life ... pain a little bit, here and there ... When I come here to work, it feels good. Hopefully, it's not going to be like this all the time."

Johnson said he hopes the fractures will heal and allow him to walk more easily. He is coaching minicamp from a red motorized wheelchari/scooter.

"Right now I'm on that cart, and it helps out quite a bit," he said.

Johnson said he isn't thinking yet about how he will navigate the season. "I'm taking it one day at a time, one camp at a time," he said.

He acknowledged that having gotten the diagnosis just before the NFC Championship Game, seeing his defense play poorly in a 32-25 loss to Arizona, missing the chance to go to the Super Bowl again, stung more than it might have normally.

A lot of disappointment," he said. "Losing that game, and then, of course, I knew we were going to have to go in and see what was happening with me, that was tough. It wasn't easy."

Johnson said his initial treatment prevented him from reviewing the loss right away.

"When you play a championship game like that, you've just got to play your best football," he said. "It was one of those games, we didn't (force) a lot of turnovers, we were so close -- turnovers could have turned that game around. They did a good job. They're a good football team. We're a good football team, too, but we didn't play our best game."

He said that though he has a lot of faith in Quintin Demps as the successor to Brian Dawkins at free safety, in retrospect, he feels he put too much pressure on Demps, gave him too many different things to do, in the championship game.

Staff Writer
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

Les Bowen Staff Writer
Paul Domowitch Daily News Columnist
Latest Videos:
Also on
letter icon Newsletter