I've got a new athlete to place among my list of favorites and not simply because Chris Johnson is an outstanding running back for the NFL Tennessee Titans. It has to do with Johnson's humanity and the way he exercised it makes him one of the greatest.
Johnson is the player who wrote the names of the victims of the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary shootings on his football shoes for his game Monday night on national TV against the New York Jets. The Titans won it 14-10, in large part to Johnson's electrifying 94-yard touchdown run, a run that saw those victim's names cross the line with him.
The family of first-grade victim Grace McDonnell saw Johnson's second quarter run and inspired by that, a friend of the McDonnell family reached out to Johnson's manager, Mike Mu, which lead to Johnson talking on the phone with Grace's brother. The youngster told Johnson that "our family saw Grace crossing the end zone" with him and that it meant a great deal to them.
Chris Johnson: 94-yard TD run
Though Chris Johnson is a great player some may argue that divine intervention was with him on that 94-yard run, the first time this season he's broken a long one, something the 5-year veteran once did on a regular basis. It was the longest NFL touchdown run in Johnson's career, beating by three yards his previous record, a 91-yarder he managed in 2009, and the second longest touchdown run from scrimmage ever in Monday Night Football history; the longest was Tony Dorsett's 99-yarder in 1982.
Like athletes in all sports, Johnson, who will auction off the shoes and donate the money in some way to the families, is a role model to young people, to all people, and he's shown by his gesture he recognizes what's important in our world. "(It was) just something to try to give back and show tribute to those families and how much they hurt,” Johnson said. “It just shows you how fortunate it is for us to come out here and play on Sunday and Monday."
The father of twins, he's obviously a special human and it is hoped the gesture eased some of the pain of the families of the victims, even by one iota. He didn't do it to make a name for himself but he managed to do that all the same and Johnson is now one of the great ones and he will forever be on my list of favorite athletes.
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