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Free Agency Roundup: Jarret Johnson
The Chargers landed one of the top prizes in the NFL free agent pool when outside linebacker Jarret Johnson signed a four-year contract in March. The 6-3, 260-pound standout was rated as the 14th-best available free agent by SI.com. Johnson is expected to take over as the strong outside linebacker in the Chargers’ 3-4 defense.
Johnson’s durability is one of the traits that made him so attractive to the Chargers. He leaves Baltimore having played in a team-record 129 straight regular-season games for the Ravens, including 80 consecutive starts. Nicknamed “J.J.” and “Double-J” by his Ravens teammates, Johnson epitomized the term “blue-collar player” during his nine seasons wearing the Ravens’ purple and black. His career totals include 523 tackles, 20 sacks, three interceptions, nine forced fumbles and 21 passes defensed.
Johnson, wife Anna, and daughter, Molly-Caroline, make their offseason home in Niceville, Fla., close to Eglin Air Force Base. Johnson has long been a supporter of our nation’s armed forces and with San Diego’s large population of Marines and Navy personnel along with the team’s outreach to area installations, Johnson should have no problem feeling right at home in San Diego.
Johnson is an avid outdoorsman who loves to boat, hunt and fish. Ironically, he loves the outdoors despite coming from a family with a long and trying legacy of men who made a living as commercial crabbers and fishermen. Beginning with his great-grandfather, all of the men in the Johnson family worked on the water, including his father, Ludwig, who was tragically lost at sea when Jarret was just two weeks shy of his eighth birthday. Johnson grew up fishing with his father and his death took a severe emotional toll. It also left his mother, Aida, alone to take care of Johnson and his sister, Mary Beth, with no job and no insurance. She quickly got back on her feet though, finding a job as an emergency response technician, while she also returned to nursing school. The only drawback was that the job required her to drive nearly 150 miles each day to and from work. To aid the family after Ludwig’s death, one of his dad’s best friends, Harry Rogers, who had worked on oil rigs up in Alaska, relocated to Florida to help Aida and provide Johnson with a father figure. Years later, Aida moved the family to Chiefland, Fla., where Johnson launched his football career on his way to becoming the first male in the family to not work as a fisherman. For a long time, Johnson resented the water and what it represented, but a couple of years ago while visiting Rogers in Florida as he was fighting a losing battle with cancer, Johnson stumbled upon an old book that contained some of his father’s old fishing logs. He discovered that his father not only fished for a living, but worked as a fishing guide, a fireman, and wrote a fishing report for the local newspaper. This discovery and all that the books contained helped provide Johnson with some closure and rekindled his interest in fishing and being on the water.
Johnson recently disclosed that had the NFL lockout continued in 2011, he was considering finding work as a commercial fishing guide, something that is now on hold until his football career comes to a conclusion.
Johnson again lives on the water in Niceville where he owns a 22-foot Pathfinder fishing boat. He has plans to purchase an even larger vessel and name it the Hotspur in honor of his great grandfather, a Danish immigrant whose first fishing boat went by the same name. And even though Johnson enjoys hunting and fishing, he has a Chocolate Labrador Retriever and has been a spokesperson for the Humane Society and several campaigns aimed at stopping animal abuse.