“I feel like I have to earn my respect every day. Earn my respect every week. Earn my respect every game. It’s not always pretty — that’s the nature of what we do, the nature of special teams. When you go out there it’s a fight. You have to just claw your way into position to make a play.”
Johnson Bademosi is a defensive back, but you probably know him better for his special teams play. Among other things, Johnson is a gunner, one of those dudes who goes flying down the field to cover punts. It's a job that requires a little bit of crazy — there are no rules for blocking a gunner, or at least none that are usually enforced. It's a street fight. Anything goes.
Johnson learned how to grapple playing another sport; he was one of the best high school rugby players in the country. But with a scholarship to Stanford, it was an easy choice to pursue football instead. Things got harder once he graduated and arrived in Cleveland. An undrafted free agent, Johnson hadn't even been invited to the 2012 combine. But he knew he could play in the NFL. And he knew his best chance to catch the coaches' eye was to excel on special teams. Many who watched him that first training camp say they have never seen a rookie play harder.
Four years later, Johnson was just voted as a special teams alternate to the Pro Bowl.
His effort also extends far beyond the field. Johnson is the Browns' player representative, a liaison between his teammates and the league. And as you'll hear in this week's episode, he brings just as much passion to that job as he does to covering punts.