A Rival's Influence: Jim Johnson 1941-2009

Josh BermanCorrespondent IJuly 28, 2009

The NFL world has lost one of it's greats today. Late in the afternoon on July 28th it was announced that Jim Johnson, the Eagles defensive coordinators, had passed away.

He fought a more then six-month battle with melanoma, and finally succumb to the disease as it spread to his spine.

He will be greatly missed.

Johnson is best known for his time with the Eagles, however he did spend time with three other NFL teams. He is widely renowned as one of the greatest defensive coordinators in the NFL. He is best known for architecting the modern blitz scheme; particularly his methods of disguising his defenses and keeping the opposing offense off-balance.

Typically when a person passes away in the sports world many articles come out. The writers do a wonderful job and paint beautiful images of the deceased. These articles are typically done in the fashion of a eulogy, however I choose to be different.

Rather then praises his career, which he does undoubtedly deserve, I would like to praise his great influence on other coaches. Steve Spagnuolo, more specifically. Steve is one of two former assistants to Johnson who went on to be the head coach of another franchise.

Steve has not actually stood on the sidelines as the big man yet, however he has had great success as a defensive coordinator for the Giants. He brought Johnson's scheme to New York and with the help of a stellar group of linemen he implemented it perfectly, even acquiring twelve sacks in one game against Johnson's Eagles.

Being a avid Giants fan, I don't remember Johnson for his many accomplishments with the Eagles; I remember him as the man who passed his gift on.

Johnson will never be forgotten in the NFL. His schemes and influence live on in his successors who continue to make headway on Johnson's innovations.

You may have noticed that in the photo for this article Johnson is obviously wearing an Eagles hat. I purposefully cut off the label to the hat to remind the reader that he should not be remembered merely for the Eagles.

He should be remembered by every fan of every team. So many teams have felt his influence over the years whether in competition or in adaptation of his many wonderful innovations.

Jim Johnson will live on in my memory as a rival coach who molded coach Spags into the man he is today. Spagnuolo played a crucial role in the Giants acquiring a Super Bowl ring, but then again he did learn from the best.

Jim was a great man and the NFL, and the world, are very lucky that he passed his many wonderful gifts on to other people like Steve, his children, and his grandchildren.  

"The idea was don't let these people dictate to you," Johnson once said. "You have to put more pressure [on the quarterback], and every year we tried to figure out how to do that."

Johnson was talking about football when he said that, but now I think it can be applied to life. You can't let people tell you how to live, you have to keep working hard and figure out how to succeed everyday.

The world has lost a brilliant man today and should be deeply saddened.

R.I.P Jim Johnson; 1941-2009

Mr. Johnson is survived by his wife, two children, and four grandchildren.