Steven Johnson Linebacker Kansas 5th Season Who is your football mentor or inspiration?
I think my mentor has probably been my dad, Steven Johnson. Growing up he taught me how to play the position when I was five years old. My dad's probably been my mentor. Inspiration-wise, my favorite player growing up was Brian Dawkins. I liked the way he played and went about his business and I had the opportunity to meet him a couple of times and that helped me with my NFL career. But as far as my football mentor, it's probably always been my dad. Even when I got older he kind of peeled off a little bit, but when you're younger that's when things are most important because you're becoming the foundation of who you're going to be.
Steelers agreed to terms with LB Steven Johnson on a one-year contract. Photos by AP.
What motivates you? **
I'd say my faith. I have a tattoo that says faith is my motivator. My foundation is called the Faith Motivated Foundation. In my life I've been through so many ups and downs. A lot of people have told me I can't do things. I've been hurt. People told me you're not going to make it, might as well hang out with us. But my faith is the only thing I had to keep me going, my faith in myself and my faith in God. I was going to be able to make it where I am now if I just stayed the course and kept on pushing. Faith is everything to me.
What is your football mindset?
Hard work forever pays. Some days are going to be up days, some days are going to be down days, but you can't let anybody take your joy. Just continue to buckle down and work hard. I believe that if you continue to work hard day in and day out it's going to pay off. Eventually it's going to pay off. You don't know when that's going to happen, but it's going to pay off. So that's always my approach, just to work hard and do the best of your ability on and off the field.* Why do you play football?*
I play just because it's in my blood. I started playing when I was five years old. I always wanted to play. My favorite team growing up was the Philadelphia Eagles. I used to run around the couch and jump over the couches with my Eagles helmet on with my grandpa and just mimicking Randall Cunningham. It's just in my blood. It's something I can't necessarily explain. It's who I am. Without football I don't necessarily know who I'd be because it's been a part of me for so long. Of course you grow older and you learn new things and you dibble and dabble in other fields, but football is always in your heart. That's why I'm here. I'm going to play this for as long as I can. When the game is said and done I'll be able to settle down and say I did it. Thirty plus years, or however many years I play total my whole life. It's just who I am.* What is your proudest football moment or memory?*
There were a couple. In high school we won a District I championship my senior year. That was a great memory. Then earning my scholarship at Kansas. I walked on so after my second year on the field I earned a scholarship and I was able to stay in school and continue to play football. Then making the 53-man roster for the Denver Broncos my rookie year as an undrafted free agent. That's something I will never, ever forget. When you go in there it seems impossible. There are so many guys who have so much talent and it's like how am I going to do it, what am I going to do? That just goes back to my faith and hard work.
When you hear Steelers football, what do you think?
Number one I think black and gold. I think of Steel Curtain, I think Jerome Bettis and Terry Bradshaw, all the big time names. Then all the Super Bowls. I didn't necessarily know how many Super Bowls the Steelers had until I walked in the building and I was like 'Oh wow, I think this is the place I need to be.' Blue-collar city, all the fans love the Steelers. That's going to be really cool to me because I like football towns where people care. You feed off that energy. The Steelers are a great organization, great owners. They have a standard here and the standard is always to win the championship. That's what I've been searching for my whole NFL career is to win a championship. I've been there once, came up a little bit short, but I'm very excited to go back.
What do you like about Pittsburgh?
It's a nice town. When I came through the Ft. Pitt Tunnel and I first saw the whole city how it's all kind of aligned. And everything kind of fit in its place I thought it was pretty cool. I think Pittsburgh's a real nice city. Has a lot of restaurants you can go and eat at. I really like the waterfront, a lot of nice walking trails, you can go fishing and do outdoorsy stuff.
What is your impression of Steelers fans?
Diehard. I'm not going to say crazy, I'm going to say they love it. You get a lot of fans who take pride in their team and take pride in their hometown and where they're from. They're going to go out there on Sundays and be the 12th man. Whenever a big play happens, they're going to cheer and whenever the Steelers are down, they're going to get them back up. I think we have fans who aren't fair weather, who just love being a part of the Steelers organization and they love the city as a whole. It makes everything that much better.