My Brief Encounter with Jim Johnson
Tonight, the Eagles will honor Jim Johnson and Eric Allen. Adam Reigner, producer at WIP and CB contributor, remembers the time he met Jim Johnson. And Kendra.
How I met a legend.
The elevator door opens up and I walk inside with several older men getting their tape recorders and pads of paper out of their bags. I reach down and pull my cell phone out of my pocket– no messages, just checking the time. The elevator swoops down to the bottom floor, opens up to blank white concrete walls, and a gust of wind greets me as I step out to see DeSean Jackson jogging down the hallway into the Eagles locker room.
I had no idea where I was going. I went with the flow.
As I approached the door where everybody was headed, I saw a blonde standing outside of it with a pink Hank Baskett jersey on. Standing there in all her glory was Kendra, star of “The Girls Next Door”. After the initial shock of seeing a Playboy bunny wore off, Andy Reid took to the podium– quite the contrast.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
It all started in 2008, at the time I was just an intern at WIP and the biggest Eagle fan I knew. I was working the Eagles pre-game show down at the then Wachovia Center. Hugh Douglas, one of my all-time favorite Eagles, was nice enough to hook me up with a press pass to the game. One thing I will never do is judge him for taking the money and going to Jacksonville. I have a rule that I will agree with the player nine out of 10 times.
After all, I don’t pay to see Jeffery Lurie sit in his owners box, I pay money to watch the players make plays. I don’t understand why people are OK with saying it’s a business when it comes to the moves that management makes, but won’t use the same logic with the players. They have an extremely short window to earn their money. I will never hate on them for doing what they have to do so they are financially secure for the rest of their lives.
After I finished cleaning up the pre-game show, I walked over with a couple people from WIP, whom I was trying to impress at the time to get a job. They were nice enough to show me the media entrance and where the elevator was to go up to the press box. Once we reached the top, everybody went their own ways and there I was, in heaven. I have been an Eagles fan since I could remember, and here I am sitting across from all the major players. No fan would forget this opportunity, their first time in a press box watching their favorite team– and I never will.
After the game, it was a mad scramble to the elevator to take you down to the locker room. I tried my best to blend in. The elevator opened and everybody made a mad dash toward the press conference room. I followed. I took a seatt in one of the last rows and noticed a pink number 84 jersey sitting in front of me. I kept looking until she turned around and there she was, Kendra, star of “The Girls Next Door” [editor’s note: and a solid seven sex-tape] sitting in front of me. Before I could even comprehend sitting behind a Playboy playmate, Andy Reid came out of the locker room– again, quite the contrast, though I’ve never seen Andy in pink.
Andy took question after question, turning each into a new way to praise his defense and the man responsible for it. The Eagles had just beaten the Steelers, 15-6, with a dominating performance by Jim Johnson’s defense.
The press conference ended and we were told that Jim would be taking questions in the locker room. A chance to go inside the locker room was something that I couldn’t pass up. I followed the media into a back hallway when word was shouted that, in fact, Jim would be taking questions in the press conference room. Awesome. We turned around and started walking back when a side door opened, standing there, looking me dead in the face, was Jim Johnson.
Flummoxed, I looked him right in the eye, stuck my hand out and said, “great game, coach" (if only the media was always this kind).
To his credit, he looked me right in the eye, shook my hand and said, “thanks, kid”.
It might not seem like much, but some of us are good at what we do and some of us… are the best. Jim was the best. Meeting him, as a wide-eyed kid in the bowels of Lincoln Financial Field, is something I"ll never forget. Let's all remember Jim tonight.
Rest in peace, to the best I’ve ever seen.