Dawkins, Harbaugh share thoughts on Johnson

The football world is mourning the loss of Jim Johnson. Here are some thoughts from several different people, including Brian Dawkins and John Harbaugh:

Dawkins: “This is a sad, sad day for myself and my Philadelphia family. Jim was tailor-made to coach in Philadelphia. He was a tough coach who wasn’t afraid to let you know how he was feeling, but at the same time, he cared about us deeply. He was an absolute blessing to me with the way he used me on the football field and allowed me to show my God-given ability. His confidence in me meant so much -- he looked to create new defenses each week to utilize my talents. I have been praying for him every day, and those prayers won’t stop now. I’ll be praying for his family and their comfort during this difficult time.”

Harbaugh: “I loved Jim Johnson. This is a sad day for so many people who were touched by this great man. Ingrid and I, the Harbaugh family, and the Ravens have Jim’s wife, Vicky, and the Johnson family in our thoughts and prayers. Jim was a tremendous teacher of football and life. He had a special ability to bring out the best in people while getting you to see the best in yourself. He saw potential and developed it. He made me believe I could coach at this level. In football, he was a pioneering and brilliant strategist, changing the way defense is played in the NFL. For me, he was a father-type mentor, and above all, a cherished friend. He belongs in the Hall of Fame. I will miss him so much.”

Roger Goodell: “Jim Johnson was a beloved coach who spent 22 years in the NFL as one of the best defensive coaches in league history.  He was a teacher to many players both on and off the field and devoted his life to the game of football.  He had a positive influence on scores of young men and leaves behind a wonderful legacy.  On behalf of the NFL family, we extend our deepest sympathies to his wife Vicky and his children and grandchildren.”

Tom Coughlin: “It is a sad, very sad, day. I talked recently to (Eagles video director) Mike Dougherty and asked him to let Jim know that I was thinking about him, and I had dropped Jim a note to let him know as well. Forget about what kind of coach he was…he was an excellent, excellent defensive coach, and he trained others to be the same. We know what Steve Spagnuolo meant to us. We had great respect for Jim, and he had great respect for us. I didn’t know Jim personally, but we would always talk to each other, mostly about the NFC East and what a great, competitive division it is. It was a respectful critique about what great players, coaches and organizations there are within the division. In talking with people who worked with Jim, you sense what a class act Jim was. He was great to work with and for, and he had his priorities in order. His players loved to play for him and his coaches loved to coach with him. It is a sad day for the National Football League to lose somebody the quality of Jim Johnson. It is a sad note on which to start the season. He coached right up to the very end.”

Steve Spagnuolo: “My wife Maria and I are deeply saddened to hear of Jim’s passing.  He was a dear friend and a special person.  Our prayers and thoughts go out to his wife Vicki and their family. Jim meant the world to me, both personally and professionally.  I am very blessed to have had the privilege to work for him and with him.  The NFL has lost a good man.”

Ron Rivera: “Jim was most certainly a very good man; a very decent man.  He was definitely a mentor, not just for me but for several guys in the league right now that are coordinators and head coaches.  He was just a real caring person.  He gave me my start and my opportunity.  He took the time to teach me. I’m extremely grateful for everything he did for me.

“Going into my fourth year in the league, he showed me how to script (plays).  He showed me how to put together a game plan.  Then he’d have me write his game plan up for him and he’d ask me, ‘Why would you do this?’ He’d tell my why.  ‘That’s not good enough,’ or ‘That’s a good idea.’  He was most certainly a teacher.

“You talk about people giving you a start and helping you along the way.  I got my first job coaching with Dave Wannstedt, but I got my first opportunity to be a position coach with Jim.  He took the time to teach me and show me.  I wouldn’t be where I am today without him mentoring, showing me and giving me the opportunity.

“Leslie (Frazier), Steve (Spagnolo) and I … we laugh about our time with Jim all the time.  We were the three young guys on the staff and Jim was hard on us.  I remember just after I was hired in Philadelphia, I had just finished signing my contract and he walked into my office and closed the door.  He said, ‘Listen.  I’m an old linebacker coach.  Don’t take anything personal when I come in and take over your meetings, when I take over your drills.  I can’t help myself.  Don’t take it personal when I’m hard on you because I’m just trying to teach you.’  That’s exactly what he did.  You take a step back and look at the success we’ve all had.  The direct correlation was Jim Johnson.”

Mike Singletary: “I would like to express, from the 49ers organization, my condolences to the Johnson family and the Eagles family, from the 49ers family. Everything that I know about Coach Johnson, is he is from the old school. He had a way of doing things and some of the people, players, coaches that know of him, speak very highly of him.”