They sang four verses of "Amazing Grace," said the Rev. Herb Lusk, Eagles chaplain and former running back. That was Jim Johnson's favorite hymn, said Lusk, who eulogized the team's former defensive coordinator, a cancer victim last week at age 68.
The principal speakers were Lusk and former Colts GM Bill Tobin, whose association with Johnson went back to when they were football teammates at Missouri, Eagles president Joe Banner said. Afterward, players and coaches, former and current, loitered to tell stories of the gruff former Missouri quarterback who led a tremendously successful Eagles defense from his hiring in 1999 until last month.
Colts coach John Harbaugh and Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo, former Johnson assistants, left their own training camps to attend. NFL commisioner Roger Goodell was an unexpected attendee, a team official said. Former players such as Troy Vincent, Al Harris, Sean Considine, Bobby Taylor, Jeremiah Trotter and Dhani Jones also came to Lincoln Financial Field for the private memorial. Brian Dawkins, who apparently is undergoing or has just undergone hand surgery, was unable to attend.
Harbaugh said the purpose was "in some ways, to thank (Johnson's wife) Vicky and the family for sharing Jim with us."
Middle linebacker Stewart Bradley told his favorite Johnson story -- accustomed to drawing on a dry-erase board in the locker room, Johnson one day had to do with a clipboard and paper. Except, looking at his players as he diagrammed, he forgot he couldn't just wipe the sheet clean, so he kept writing over what he'd just written, and rubbing it, and writing some more. "By the end, it was an absolute mess," Bradley said.
Look for more in Saturday's Daily News.