SAN DIEGO — Chris Johnson aka CJ2K was one of the most electrifying backs in the NFL for ten seasons. Johnson ran for 2,006 yards in 2009, putting him in elite company. Only eight players in the history of the NFL have ran for that many yards in a season.
CJ2K sat down with CBS 8 to talk about his journey to the NFL, what made him walk away and what he is doing right now.
Just tell us about your journey to start playing football?
Well, my journey started when I was younger, like I was always wanting to play and I was always smiling about the game. My mom, she never really wanted to let me play She let my oldest brother play. I always kept bugging her to let me play. She eventually let me play, and then you know I think I started my first-year playing in like seventh grade, or whatever like that.
So some people these days start late and that’s fine because the game has changed. But like back then, you know, kids starting at five years old, or whatever, like that. But then went to high school, loved playing in high school, then I ended up going to East Carolina, or whatever. I was there for a few years just had a great time then ended up getting drafted in the first round.
Then just like I always had a chip on my shoulder because that was never really given to me, I had to earn it. When I came out of high school, I wasn't highly recruited, I think I was like a two star or something like that. So, I always had a chip on my shoulder. Its crazy too because like, I've been playing varsity since my freshman year in high school. and going to East Carolina, started as a freshman, then everything I did in college, even then, when I came out in the draft, I went first round, but I was still like the fifth running back taken off the board. So, like, I always had a chip on my shoulder because I always had to prove myself. So, like, even when it's I got there. I'm a first rounder, I want to be a superstar, I want to be the best running back in the league. When they talk about running back, even when I retire, when they talk about running backs I want to be where they can't talk about running backs without having to mention my name. So that was just part of having a chip on my shoulder and stuff like that.
Do you feel like you've left a legacy not just in the NFL, but even where you grew up with your family, with your friends. Even when people you know, the younger generation who looked up to you?
Yeah, I know for sure I left a legacy. It'd be crazy because like, even for me being back home and stuff like that or like I'd be out it’s hard to live a regular life. I be forgetting sometimes that I am someone that kids look up to, so I need to understand that. People want pictures and stuff like that, it might get a little tiring sometimes but, I got to understand who I am. I do enjoy seeing things though and holding camps and helping kids out.
When did you decide to walk away from the game? Was it hard or were you ready?
Yeah, it was hard, and I feel like a lot of players will go through it or it's like you go from playing football every day and being known as one of the best athletes, one of the best football players in the world to not playing anymore.
So now, you're going through the transition to the later part of your career. The big question is always what am I going to do next? I'll say it's hard because your whole life is based basically structure from high school, college, and pros. So, you are talking about like, 20 years of your life. Man, we had structured every day, structure all season. Then, once you walk away you don’t have any. It was tough to adjust to, I just had to find a way to stay busy.
So now you have a coffee shop, and I think this is an interesting transition after playing. What sparked that idea?
Oh, you know, it was part of the process of me trying to transition in different things to do. Once I finished playing, I actually went back to get my degree. So different times when you know, I had different work I needed to do or study or do different things. So I used to go to different coffee shops going to get work don. After going to a few I was like, this would be a cool idea to have one. So, I ended up getting into that, but when I was there, I would hear jazz music, I would get finger food, drink good coffee and it was a cool environment.
I wanted to do something that was different, and so I thought this would be a good start.
So now you have a podcast with LenDale White, both of y'all were great in college and the NFL, how did this podcast get started?
So, we spent a lot of time together, he come down here to Orlando or wherever we at, we always spend a lot of time together. We would always go back and forth on different topics and even sports and just everything.
Whatever topic it is, we always go back and forth. Now, everyone has a podcast and we thought, why don’t we start one? This podcast is going to be a lot more than just football, I want to talk about our topics, or whatever. It’s fun man, I am happy we started it, we can really just talk about whatever and people have said they liked it.
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