Even though OTAs are purely optional, and even though Jaylon Johnson has already established himself as the top cornerback in the Bears defense, some people started to panic when he didn’t show up to Halas Hall for the first two weeks of organized practices.
Some speculated that Johnson was gearing up to hold out for a new contract. Others assumed he wasn’t as dialed in as needed to prepare for the upcoming season. Others still wondered about a possible fracture between Johnson and Bears brass.
Turns out he was just making the most of precious family time with his 3-year-old daughter.
“I'm a dad before I'm anything else,” Johnson said. “Before I'm a football player, before I'm anything. I'm a dad first.
“I don't get to spend too much time with her during the season because she's back at home in California. Me in the offseason, I take pride in being a dad. I'm not just any old type of dad that just comes and sees their kid. I'm present. I'm spending time. I'm putting my heart into my daughter.”
Beyond daddy-daughter time, Johnson ran a charity golf event for his foundation “Kevvy’s Vision,” and sponsored a youth football camp.
“I've had a lot of things going on,” Johnson said.
Sounds like an understatement.
Johnson also put to bed any notions that he was clashing with coaches. He said he communicated with them when he was planning on reporting to Halas Hall, why he wasn’t going to be there, and never received any pushback.
Further, Johnson explained that amidst his packed summer calendar, he made sure to stay engaged with the team.
“Definitely got on the Zoom meetings, waking up in the morning and getting on the Zoom meetings and being along and still hearing and learning. Going through the installs. Talking to (cornerbacks) Coach (Jon) Hoke weekly, multiple times throughout the week. Calling and checking in with guys in the group. I talk to Kindle (Vildor) once or twice a week. The communication never stopped.”
Even if Johnson didn’t have numerous understandable reasons for missing out on two weeks of OTAs, he probably wouldn’t have missed a step when he returned to Halas Hall. He’s the unquestioned No. 1 CB on this team and he already knows the defense.
“I know at the end of the day, I'm a pro,” Johnson said. “I've been in this long enough. I know how to go about it. I know how to work out, stay in shape, continue to do what I need to do along with handling my business at home.”
Johnson is a confident man who knows exactly who he is and what he brings on the football field. He knows what matters. The same goes for Johnson off the football field.
“At the end of the day, I'm gonna be there for my daughter because they can find another corner. My daughter can't find another dad.”