Lane Johnson doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.
Over the weekend, the Eagles’ second-year right tackle Tweeted out a dinner receipt from Del Friscos that totaled $17,746.86. The Tweet got picked up by a number of outlets and blew up more than Johnson anticipated.
"It was kind of my idea, keep the tradition going," Johnson said. "I didn’t pay the whole bill. I got help from Todd [Herremans] and Evan [Mathis], so just something I did for them. Ain’t no big deal to me.
"I probably should have gave it some clarity. When I Tweeted it out, all I said was ‘rookie dinner.’ And they think I got pressured into doing it - this, that and the other. But that’s alright."
During the season, the offensive linemen go out to dinner every Thursday night and play credit card roulette, Johnson said. Herremans told his teammates the tradition of rookie offensive linemen taking their peers to dinner has been going on for awhile with the Eagles.
"It’s something they did coming into the NFL," Johnson said. "Really no pressure. I didn’t have to pay for the [whole] meal. It was just something I did. But usually any time we get a chance to go out and eat, it’s always a good thing. We did it throughout the season. This time the check was a little bit more than the average."
Added Jason Kelce: "It’s something that usually you take care of in-season. It’s kind of like the rookie’s first outing with the whole team. He’s kind of made the team. It’s usually right after that 53-man roster has been made. And then it’s kind of like your first bonding experience as a group. Usually it turns out great, but since that Miami [Dolphins] scandal, everybody’s on high alert with that stuff.
"The bottom line is it was a team function. Nobody forced Lane to do that. A lot of the times, this is with any profession, I feel like when you get a promotion or get a raise or something like that, what do you do? The first thing you do is you take out your family, friends, people around you that you care about. Like I just signed a big deal, I’m gonna do something for these guys. I’m not just gonna take everything. Obviously there’s other people that contributed to me getting a bigger deal. So it gets portrayed in the media, they like to act like they have a clue of what’s going on in our locker room. But the fact of the matter is we have a really tight-knit group of guys, and Lane was more than happy to do that."
When Kelce was a rookie, he, Danny Watkins and Julian Vandervelde took the linemen to Barclay Prime.
"Danny paid the most because he was a first-round pick and had the highest signing bonus," Kelce said. "And then me and Julian split the rest of it."
Asked why they didn't do Johnson's rookie dinner last year, Kelce said: "We tried to do it during the season, but it gets into… I mean obviously we’re drinking some alcohol, having a good time, and in-season that’s not the way you’re doing things. Usually you’ll do it on like a Thursday game. You’ll do it that week on a Friday because you have plenty of time to rest. Guys are getting out of town a little bit after a Thursday game. This was the first time we had enough guys in town to where people weren’t gonna miss it."
The sense from the linemen was that the whole thing is really no big deal, although Kelce admitted Johnson probably didn't need to Tweet out the receipt.
"No, I would not have," he said. "And that’s something we’ve already talked to Lane about. You generally don’t want to Tweet that out, but bottom line, we’re not trying to hide anything either. He Tweeted it out. It is what it is. There’s nothing that we’re trying to hide here."