No Regrets: Jadar Johnson moves on after losing the love of the game


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Johnson hopes to get a Master's degree and become a counselor
Johnson hopes to get a Master's degree and become a counselor

CLEMSON – There comes a time in the life of every player when the love of the game isn’t enough, when the wear and tear of the season and the constant grind leaves you wanting more. There also comes a time when the love of the game wanes, and you fall out of love with the mistress that pulled you in as a youngster.

Jadar Johnson reached that point late last week. The former Clemson safety signed a free agent contract with the New York Giants following the NFL Draft, but after OTAs and the start of training camp, Johnson realized he was ready to move on with his life.

The love was gone.

“Well, I kind of just fell out of love for the game. I didn’t have the passion I did for it anymore,” Johnson said. “That really was what I was going off of. I knew that I already had my degree, so I knew that there was something else I could do and that football wasn’t my only option. So that weighed a lot into it too. If I didn’t have a college degree, I don’t know how that decision would have went. But really knowing that I already had my college degree and there were other options for me to be successful, that’s really what it was.”

Johnson said that despite what some people might think he is in great shape – both mentally and physically.

“There wasn’t no health problems. My health, he might have been talking about my mental health. Just being up there, being depressed,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t really call it depression, but when I come at other people like that. When all you know is Jadar playing football, Jadar playing football and then I come (home)– people are like (he said), ‘I don’t want to play football anymore.’

“That what a lot of people see it as—a depression, but I wouldn’t really call it a depression. I was just in a state where I didn’t really—I was in a state where I didn’t really want to play football anymore. That’s really the only thing. There weren’t any health problems. I’m 100-percent healthy—I’m healthy.”

He then said that it will be a relief to hold a normal conversation with people – one that doesn’t involve football.

“That’s where the majority of the pressure comes from,” Johnson said. “That’s also weighed in on the option of wanting to step outside because I wanted to do something different. Every time I came around, every time I see somebody from back home that’s all they want to talk about, ‘Hey, you up there with the Giants now, right?’ That’s all they want to talk about and it just kind of takes away from you as a person when people just label you as a football player—it kind of takes away the other things from you. And I just wanted to get something different, because I’m not just a football player. You know, I’m a college graduate. I can go and do other things and still be successful.

“And I feel like when you know somebody as just a football player, when you try to do something else it seems to other people like that person is just throwing their life away or they’re about to become a failure just because those were the only expectations that people set for me—just be good at football. It also gave me the courage and the strength to step outside of that lane, and show people that I can do something different and I’m not just a football player.”

What’s next for the Orangeburg native? A Master’s degree and hopefully a job where he can help people.

“Right now, my plan is to go back to school (at Clemson) and try to get my Master’s degree and then go looking for jobs from there. I want to do something, as you know I graduated in sociology, so I want to do counseling,” Johnson said. “More specifically counseling with athletes, guys that go through what I’ve gone through where I’ve been in the sport my whole life, and when it gets to that point where a certain person, that certain athlete, doesn’t want to play football no more.

“I want to be that guy that they can come talk to and help them deal with that type of thing. Because there’s a lot of players that go through that, but never really have the heart to stand up and say that they don’t really want to play no more because of the pressure from other people. Just being used to that my whole life, I want to be the guy to help kids like that.”

Despite the loss of his former love, Johnson knows that he won’t look back in later life and have regrets – he gave it his best shot.

“The experience was great. Even just being up in that big city (New York) like that with me being from Orangeburg. It showed me a lot of different things that I didn’t experience growing up,” Johnson said. “It also was just me going out there on my own, I feel like it made me become a little more responsible because I couldn’t just run to my mom and dad for everything. I was really up there having to handle everything by myself. I wouldn’t change how I did it. I was definitely glad that I took a shot and that I actually went up there to see how that stuff is because it showed me things from a different perspective. Once I got up there it made me realize that’s not what I wanted to do anymore.”


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