“The price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.” – James Baldwin.
Once he signed the richest contract ever given to an NFL running back Friday afternoon, there was seemingly no price he could not pay for whatever he desired.
In the weeks that preceded that moment, he endured the cost of accumulated knowledge.
“Gong into contracts you have to know the business side of it and going through this situation I know more than I ever thought about the business,” he said. “It’s just different situation that I went through. And the point I was at and understanding where the team was at, I’m very satisfied with this deal.”
The record-setting running back agreed to a four-year extension with the Tennessee Titans that guaranteed him $30 million and offered the potential for him to make as much as $56 million over the next six seasons.
That came after he staged a holdout, which caused him to miss the entire training camp as well as all four preseason contests. He spent the majority of that time in Orlando, Fla., where he worked out under the direction of personal trainers and talked as many as “five or six times a day” with his agent, Joel Segal.
“[I was] missing playing football, back in Orlando working out every day and just nothing to do after that,” he said. “Basically, the best thing is getting back to Nashville, getting back with my teammates so I can help this organization win.”
Johnson said he watched very little of the Titans’ preseason performances – it was too hard, he said – but stayed in contact with some teammates, primarily fellow running back Javon Ringer. He said he also received support from other players around the league who had been through similar things.
With a little more than a week before the regular-season opener (Sept. 11 at Jacksonville), he expects to be able to assume a full workload almost immediately.
“Anytime I step on the field or I’m with a team I want to be the best player out there and help my team win,” Johnson said. “I feel like if I’m not the best player at my position or the best player out there on the field I don’t feel like I’m doing my job. So just because I got a deal, I don’t think I won’t play as hard as I’ve been playing.
“… My mindset and the player that I am, of course I’m ready to say I’ll take the whole load. … But you never know your body until you go through the situation.”
He does, however, know much more about the business side of being an NFL player than he did a few months ago.
“At the end of the day, it’s about more than just the big contract and getting the money – that’s the business side of it – but the type of player I am,” Johnson said. “When I’m out there on the field I want to be the best and when it’s time to win I want the team to count on me. I want to put the team on my shoulders and steer us to victory.”