Stafon Johnson: The Cruel Reality of the NFL

Bill ShermanContributor IAugust 17, 2010

SEATTLE - AUGUST 14:  Running back Stafon Johnson #13 of the Tennessee Titans leaves the field after being injured during the preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on August 14, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

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This story has nothing to do with fantasy football, I just thought it should be written.

Football is a tough sport, no doubt about it. That’s why it’s so popular amongst fans throughout the world. It’s a violent sport where the player’s are unbelievably big and strong, not to mention blazing fast. That makes for violent collisions where strange things can happen to a player’s body, whether it be concussions or broken bones. This is a game where you have to be a little “crazy” to play on the NFL level.

I’m writing this not because of the injury I just saw happen, but who it happened to. The young man’s name is Stafon Johnson. Yeah, the same Stafon Johnson who dropped a 275 lb. barbell on his throat crushing his vocal cord, adam’s apple and tearing neck muscles. In what was a typical routine team workout, he was doing everything right, he had a spotter and he wasn’t being careless or reckless. This was a workout routine he had done numerous times before. This time was different though, the barbell slipped and almost ended his life and crushed his NFL dreams.

But Johnson would eventually work his way back into playing shape. He went undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft, but the Tennessee Titans took a chance on him and signed him immediately after the draft. Johnson was having a good camp with the Titans, performing beyond expectations. Then came last Sunday’s preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks and everything changed again.

Stafon Johnson would take the handoff on what appeared to be a normal NFL play. The replay was not so normal though. Jeff Fisher made the comment that he thought Johnson’s shoe had come off and was being held in place by tape. What happened though was that he dislocated his ankle, sprained his ankle, and broke his fibula all in one sudden moment. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll came out to console his former USC player, Fisher was also there alongside him. Players huddled and prayed around him for a player that has been to hell and back. Then Johnson was carted off the field and looked to the sky offering praise. It was a scene of sadness and disappointment all wrapped into one. For a player that had already beaten the longest of odds, this was truly a moment of faith. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the kid after all he’s been through. This was the first time in a longtime while watching football that you actually saw the human side of the game. It was truly touching in everything that happened on that field from Carroll to Fisher, to the players around him giving him strength. I know everyone on that field knew Johnson’s story, but how many fans know of Stafon Johnson, the football player just trying to make it in the NFL.

Stafon Johnson was given the game ball by Jeff Fisher for his first NFL game. You hope the Tennessee Titans do the right thing and put this kid on injured reserve and let him work his way back next season. You hope they stand by his side and just don’t release him. I don’t think they will, the Titans and Fisher are a class act in the NFL. Johnson recently said on his Twitter account that this is a bump in the road. For a guy that worked himself back from where he once was I tend to believe him.

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