OWINGS MILLS – As he officially announced his retirement Wednesday, former Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson received praise from many directions.
General manager Ozzie Newsome hailed Johnson for his leadership during his nine seasons with the Ravens.
“He was a tempo-setter,” Newsome said. “He set the tempo in our locker room. He set the tempo in the classroom. He set the tempo out on the practice field. And he definitely set the tempo on Sundays when we played games.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Johnson epitomized the term, “Play like a Raven.”
“Extremely talented, very smart,” Harbaugh said. “He was the guy who made all our calls and set the defense.”
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees talked about his close friendship with Johnson. Pees said every Ravens coach had the utmost respect for Johnson. During his playing days, Johnson drew a huge circle on a grease board in the defensive meeting room.
“That’s called the circle of trust,” Pees said. “That’s double-J’s circle. When your initials went in there, you were proud as heck. That means that guy respected you. I remember walking in there a long time ago saying, I got to get D.P. in there.”
The only two-time captain in Alabama history, Johnson entered the NFL with a chip on his shoulder, after falling to the fourth round in 2003, where the Ravens finally selected him.
“I thought I was a better player than that,” Johnson said.
He was right. In his nine seasons with the Ravens, Johnson played in a team record 129 straight games, including 80 consecutive starts. Other defensive players like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs grabbed more headlines during Johnson’s time with the Ravens. But nobody within the organization underestimated Johnson’s importance.
Johnson played his final three seasons with the Chargers, but decided to retire after last season. He will eventually sign a one-day deal with the Ravens so he can retire with the organization. What’s next for Johnson? He is enjoying spending time with his family, but did not rule out working for the Ravens in some capacity.
“I’d love to have some role in this game,” Johnson said. “I’d love to have a connection with this organization and with this game, because I love it. We’ll see.”
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