Former Raiders cornerback Chris Johnson, who asked for his release last season while recovering from a family tragedy, was grateful to former coach Hue Jackson and the organization for the support he got after his sister was killed and his mother was shot in an alleged domestic dispute.
Johnson, a reserve cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens, said Jackson, along with defensive backs coaches Rod Woodson and Kevin Ross as well as Raiders legend Willie Brown, checked on him constantly. Johnson also feels indebted to late owner Al Davis, who made him a starting cornerback at age 29 and paid him accordingly.
“I’m very thankful for what Mr. Davis did for me,” Johnson said. “I love that organization, the organization was good to me and my family.”
Johnson thought the decision to fire Jackson was a mistake, and asked about his observations about the differences between the Ravens and the Raiders, he did not pull any punches:
— “Hue was an outspoken coach, and that’s what you want as a player, you want somebody to go to war for you and talk and let him do the talking and the players are going to do the backing up. Hu was the best coach I had since I was out there. I mean, we went 8-8, we was a good, solid team, you could see the identity of the team. I don’t know what was said, he wasn’t for the team or whatever, that was a straight lie. Hue had the best interests for the team and there were some of the guys in that locker room _ some of the key guys in that locker room _ that weren’t leaders. Here, on this team, Ray (Lewis) controls that locker room.”
— “I’d put it like this, if you put Ray Lewis in the Oakland locker room, probably a good 20 people wouldn’t be on that team, because pf the way Ray runs his ship, and manning up the guys. In Oakland the guys weren’t like that I mean, I’m not going to call no names, but the high guys you’re supposed to put the position on, they weren’t leaders, you talk a good game but they weren’t playing a good game. Ray does that. That was more of the thing that was wrong with Oakland, they were getting guys that didn’t love the game.”
Johnson took in his 14-year-old niece, while his nephew is living with his mother, now fully recovered physically.
The nightmare will be revisted later this month when Esters goes on trial on Texas.
“It’s going to bring all the emotions right back up,’’ Johnson said. “We’ll try to deal with that after the Super Bowl. Hopefullly on Sunday we’ll be able to hold up that trophy.’’