Legends Series:Ron Johnson
1978-84* *Ron Johnson, the Steelers No. 1 pick in the 1978 NFL Draft, exuded confidence from the time he arrived with the Steelers. Coming to a team loaded with two-time Super Bowl champions, he wasn't intimidated and immediately set his sights on getting a Super Bowl ring of his own.
Not only did he win one ring, but he became a two-time Super Bowl champion as a part of the Steelers Super Bowl XIII and XIV teams. * *
"It's one of the most fascinating things you can think of, to walk out of that tunnel at the Super Bowl, Joe Greene and Jack Lambert brought us out on the field," said Johnson. "For me it's still a thrill. Some days I have to pinch myself that these things happened. I am part of an organization that has six Super Bowls. I am proud of one of the most dominant organizations in sports. And I am proud of it. It's a sense of accomplishment to win a championship."
Johnson also weighed in on a variety of other topics in this exclusive interview:What's your best memory from your playing career?"My best memory was that morning when Jim Boston called and said, 'Ron, we didn't know if you would still be on the board, but we got you.' He said, 'Welcome to Pittsburgh, Chuck Noll is going to call you. He wants to speak to you.'"
What was draft day like for you, in addition to getting that call?"Henry David Thoreau said, and I paraphrase, 'To live out your fantasy and your dreams, yet you are wide awake.' I woke up one day as a 22-year old guy and I am teammates with Mel Blount, Joe Greene, John Stallworth and Terry Bradshaw. I became a member of that Steel Curtain and played as hard as I could. I was living out a dream and I was wide awake."
What was it like to get the call from Chuck Noll?
"To be honest, I didn't know a lot about Chuck Noll at the time. I knew the players, I knew the Steel Curtain defense. Chuck and I had a very brief conversation. He said get ready to come in here and play. It's one of the most exciting things that ever happened to me and will."
What was it like to be a part of the Steel Curtain defense right off the bat?
"That was an exciting time. We were playing the Kansas City Chiefs and I got excited out there on the field and got a little hot. I said a few words. Dwight White came over to my locker after the game and said he wanted to kick my butt for acting like that. I asked Dwight a question, how many Super Bowl rings he has. He said I have two. I said I have none, and that is why I came here. I want to play in the Super Bowl and win a world championship because that is something I will keep with me for the remainder of my life."
You played on some dominating defenses. What was it like going into a game with that kind of group?"It was confidence. It was being confident. I didn't want to be the guy who didn't come in and hold his own. That was my focus. I spent a lot of time with Mel (Blount) and he taught me how to study film and guy's mannerisms. He picked up guy's behavior. It's a very competitive world and you are playing against world class receivers. In preparation for those guys, covering our guys in practice, going into a game I thought there was nobody I couldn't cover."
Who had the biggest impact on your career?"Mel Blount did. He took good care of his body, of his family. It was a blessing for me to come to Pittsburgh and be a part of that. Mel and I formed a friendship and we are still friends."
Those bonds you built then, does it amaze you how strong they still are?"That is the making of a champion. I am not saying teams that weren't champions, weren't close. But that was the making of a champion. That is what we did in Pittsburgh. It's a fascinating thing to be a member of the Steelers. It's hard to put it into words. I was thinking about all of the guys I played with, and I love all of these people. When you walked in the locker room it exuded confidence. Chuck Noll had a sign on the wall that said, 'Whatever it takes.' We had that sign, and it said it."
What did it mean to you to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers?"For me, what it meant to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers…going to training camp my rookie year in Latrobe most of the young guys were in camp. But then the veteran players showed up and there were 10,000 people at training camp. I went to Eastern Michigan University and there were times when we didn't have 10,000 people in the stands. To play in Pittsburgh, imagine for a second to walk out on the field with L.C. Greenwood, Dwight White, John Banaszak, and all the rest, it was the most fascinating thing I could ever think of doing. I am living out my life, in a dream state, yet I am still awake. Some days I feel like I have never woke up from that. It's the greatest thing that ever happened to me."