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Jim Johnson’s Wife, Vicky And Eric Allen Share Thoughts On Honor

The Eagles released the following speeches and interviews of team owner Jeffrey Lurie, Eagles Holl inductee Eric Allen and wife of legendary defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, who died a year ago.

Jim Johnson and Eric Allen’s Induction into the Eagles Honor Roll Press Conference

Eagles Chairman/CEO Jeffrey Lurie
Opening remarks:

“Wow, it’s a special day and a special night for us all. And as you know, Eagles Honor Roll is a place where we pay tribute to exceptional individuals who have earned their way into our hearts and into our history. People on this historic list made memories for our fans and made a real difference in the lives of the people who worked alongside them; they are the unforgettable ones. No one who worked alongside Jim Johnson or Eric Allen will ever forget them. Jim was our defensive coordinator from 1999 until his very premature death in 2009. We are so pleased to have his wife Vicki [Johnson] with us today. The fans, as you all know Jim was the architect of an unpredictable, aggressive style of defense that left our fans and all of us cheering every time we sacked a quarterback or stuffed a run. He loved drawing up defenses [and] they came from everywhere, blitzes, strategy, and there was no denying that when you had Jim you had a very aggressive and wonderful defense. But many more than that in the locker room, on the practice fields, in the meeting rooms, outside the lines, outside the field Jim was just much more than a football coach; he was a motivator, he was a teacher, and more than anything I would say a friend [and] a friend to us all. He was old school as you know, he was gruff, incredibly honest both to the media and everybody he worked with. All of us, if I were to ask Jim how we’re doing in some area [he gave me an] honest answer in every single area. And most importantly he knew how to win. There are so many desks as you walk around [the] NovaCare [facility] that have pictures of Jim on their desks in everyone’s office or right on the desk, there. Everyone keeps that fresh in mind, keeps Jim fresh in mind, and he’s the kind of guy that you always want to keep alive and keep around. What can I say?

Eric Allen joined us as a second round pick out of Arizona State. He played with the Eagles from [19]88 to [19]94. I was lucky enough to have him just for my first year, but he was the prototypical modern cornerback; smart, fast, explosive, capable of changing the course of a game in a single play. He was a student of the game [and] he put his studies to use in becoming a feared defender and an interception machine. His 34 interceptions are the most in team history tied with [former Eagle defensive back] Bill Bradley and [former Eagle safety] Brian Dawkins. He was selected to a record five Pro Bowls and holds the Eagles career record with five interceptions returned for touchdowns. For all of those accomplishments Eric was also the complete team player. He was a star in his own right but he helped the entire defense shine brightly. In 1991, he was part of one of the most dominant defenses in NFL history. The Eagles [19]91 defense led the league in stopping the run, stopping the pass, and total yards allowed. We’re proud to have Eric here with us today and we look forward to hearing him cheered at halftime by all of the Eagles fans. Vicki, Eric, we’re so proud and grateful for what you and your families have brought to the Eagles and all of our fans. Welcome to the Honor Roll.”

Wife of Honor Roll Inductee Jim Johnson, Vicki Johnson:
Opening comments:

“This is an awesome evening and I thank you so much. Jim would be so proud to be associated with Eric and he would have loved to have coached him, too. It’s a great night for our family.”

Honor Roll Inductee/Defensive Back Eric Allen:

Opening comments:

“Sometimes you can think about so many other negative things about football but this gives me an opportunity to kind of shed light on some of the people who were instrumental in me getting here. And I remember times coming to the facility and talking to Jim, you know, and he was such a well respected guy in the National Football League and I’m lucky to be inducted with him. So you had a great husband and an outstanding, outstanding defensive coordinator. The Philadelphia Eagles are still kind of missing that great part of him. First of all, I’d like to thank Mr. Lurie and the Eagles organization for giving myself [and] my family an opportunity to come back and be a part of the Eagles Honor Roll. It’s a huge accomplishment but the accomplishment is just not mine alone. I mean, it started in high school where you have so many people behind you to support you to get you to this point. I met my wife, Lynn, in the eleventh grade and she’s been with me forever. She’s been the rock behind all of the decisions that I have to make on and off the football field [and] kind of keeps me going right. My four wonderful children are here to take part of it. My high school friends from San Diego came to be a part of this. When I got here as a young guy, you know, I had a guy like [former Eagles DB] Roynell Young who had been here eight years, had been to a Super Bowl [and] he took me under his wing and showed me how to prepare a be a pro. The great [late Eagles defensive end] Reggie White opened his house to us in making sure that we did the things that’s necessary on the field but more so off the field, taking care of the community. And that’s one thing that the Eagles have continued to do to this day, is really make sure they make a huge footprint and the community is very important. And as far as the great coaches, [former Tennessee Titans head coach] Jeff Fisher, [Houston Texans defensive coordinator] Wade Phillips, [former Eagles DE] Clyde [Simmons] and [former Eagles LB] Seth [Joyner] and all the great teammates, and the fans here have always been amazing. No matter [where you are], Connecticut, Arizona, California, there’s always great Eagles fans and they will stop you in the middle of the street and give you the Eagle chant and shake your hand, pat you on the back. So it’s a huge deal for me and my family to be represented here in the Honor Roll and I just can’t thank Mr. Lurie enough for providing this opportunity for me and my family.”

On being inducted into the team’s honor roll on Sunday night against the Cowboys:

Eric Allen: “That was the first thing – [Eagles Chairman/CEO Jeffrey Lurie] told me the game. I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? The Eagles and Cowboys game?’ I was so excited, you know, because it’s such a great rivalry and a great history of that matchup. Of course you know I’m breaking down the games on Sunday and Monday at ESPN, but I always have kind of that feeling of it’s Eagles and Cowboys week. You put a little bit more emphasis on it. It was special to be inducted on this night because it’s the Eagles and Cowboys rivalry.”

On why his team was cherished by the city of Philadelphia despite not winning a championship:

Eric Allen: “First of all, it still stings a little bit [to not win a championship in Philadelphia]. Every Super Bowl Sunday, you know, you talk to [former Eagles defensive end] Clyde [Simmons] and you talk to [former Eagles linebacker] Seth [Joyner], you talk to some of the guys and you talk about what-ifs. It’s really a shame that we couldn’t bring a championship here. On Tuesdays we would leave the facility and go down to South Philly. We would go to schools, we would talk to underprivileged kids and just try and welcome them into our facility. I think we had a really good relationship with the community and we were out there a lot. [Former Eagles head coach] Buddy [Ryan] really wanted us to do that and they loved Buddy Ryan. No matter how gruff he was and speaking from the hip, I think the fans really appreciated that kind of attitude that we brought, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. It’s unfortunate that we did not get that championship, but I would not want to spend my time any place else.”

On why defensive players are treated like heroes in Philadelphia compared to offensive players:

Eric Allen: “When you talk about that, we were kind of the opposite of the 49ers. The 49ers at the time, they were offense first and they rode in the front of the planes on away trips. I was just telling my buddy the other day that the 49ers would stop wearing pads after the fourth or fifth week of the season. We’d be in like Week 13 going full pads hitting people. That’s what Buddy wanted, a physical football team. I’m not sure how much [former Eagles quarterback] Randall [Cunningham] liked that, but yeah, defensively kind of ruled the day around here.”

On whether Jim and Vicki’s grandchildren were with Vicki:

VJ: “Yes, they are. Justin and Brandon.”

On whether they’re helping her get through this:

VJ: “They really are, they really are. They were at training camp this past summer, too. It’s been great for them.”

On the importance of inducting Jim Johnson into the team’s honor roll so quickly:

JL: “It was really a question of should we do it right away last year, last season, or just wait one year. That’s how important Jim was. He was one of the great coordinators I think in the history of the National Football League. We were just lucky to have him. You just can’t imagine the leadership and dynamism – I’ve said a few words – but just the day-to-day character of that man. It was incredibly impressive. I’m attracted to very genuine people as coaches. I think players can see right through a lack of genuineness. I think [Eagles head coach] Andy Reid does a lot of genuineness, and Jim Johnson epitomized that. He was just always honest, he was self-critical and he was able to analyze when things weren’t going well and also was able to think outside the box. He was a warm person and he was just a lovely man that we wanted to honor right away. There was no reason to delay.”

On Jim Johnson being characterized as a “mad scientist” as a defensive coordinator and how that translated into his everyday life:

VJ: “He was just a regular person, he really was. He really kept football separate from life. I think he sort of lived it and breathed it so much that when he walked in the door he didn’t want to talk – I wanted to talk about it. I wanted to know the X’s and O’s, but he did not want to talk about it. My daughter could talk to him on the telephone long distance and he would talk football to her, but he wouldn’t talk [football] to me. He had a great sense of humor. He really had a great sense of humor. He loved to laugh, he loved a good joke.”

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Posted by on Oct 30 2011. Filed under BREAKING NEWS, Eagles, General News, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Comments for “Jim Johnson’s Wife, Vicky And Eric Allen Share Thoughts On Honor”

  1. I missed this piece, and am sure others did, thanks for sharing the words, Mr. Cobb.

  2. That one was for you JJ. RIP.

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