Johnson: Ready for the field of life
Defensive ends aren't
partial. They use precision timing and footwork, synchronized
with an outburst of energy, to create the cleanest path to a quarterback.
If all goes well, the fury and momentum of a muscle-bound freight
train is unleashed in a style fit for the next big poster, forcing
a loss of yardage or even possession of the coveted pigskin.
Raylee Johnson has
made his living this way for the past 11 years as a member of
the San Diego Chargers. As the Chargers’ longest tenured
player, Johnson ranks fourth on the team’s all-time list
with 46 career sacks, and is one of only three players remaining
from the 1994 squad that reached Super Bowl XXIX. But 1994 has
more significance than a Super Bowl season for Johnson. It is
the year he accepted Christ as Savior.
“My wife [Diann]
was a big part of that,” Johnson says. “Seeing what
Christ had done in her life made me want to seek Jesus even more
and be serious about it.” Johnson says his newfound faith
in God translated into a more disciplined and focused work ethic
on the field. “I’m working as unto the Lord,”
Johnson says. “I put every effort into it.” That doesn’t
bode well for quarterbacks across the line of scrimmage from the
6-foot-3-inch, 275-pound defensive end. But for Johnson, balancing
his faith and preying on quarterbacks is not a difficult task.
don’t hit them to hurt them,” Johnson says. “It’s
not my job to try to hurt people. I’m going to try to tackle
[the quarterback] and do the same thing the next play.”
Johnson’s example is one that his younger teammates are
eager to learn from. As the team’s veteran, Johnson realizes
his actions on and off the field represent more than the values
of the organization that drafted him in 1993.
“The person you
are when no one is looking is the real you,” Johnson says,
noting the importance of actions rather than words in a profession
surrounded by TV cameras and media hype. “If you mess up
just one time in this life, it could be blown up in such a way
that the world won’t accept you anymore. But the good thing
about Jesus is He will always accept you and forgive you of your
hope in Christ that has helped him through the ups and downs of
an 11-year NFL career.
God is always there gives me strength when I’m weak,”
Johnson says. “I want to be rapture ready.”
Olivarez is staff writer for Today’s Pentecostal Evangel.
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