Lane Johnson: ‘I Failed the Team’
Before Lane Johnson left the Eagles earlier this year, the team sat at 3-1 and looked like a legitimate playoff contender. But as Johnson served his 10-game suspension in Oklahoma City, the Birds unraveled in Philadelphia with a rotating cast of characters trying to fill Johnson’s place at right tackle.
In his absence, the offense sputtered and the team lost eight of their 10 games.
“I didn’t like it. I can tell you that much. It was a shitty situation — you can put that on record. It sucked,” Johnson said. “From now on, no more strikes or I’m out. I know what’s at stake. I think this will bring the best out of me as a player and hopefully as a person.”
Johnson added how the Eagles’ season “could’ve been a lot different” and that he “failed the team.” He was also cognizant of the potential two-year suspension if he fails another drug test.
While Doug Pederson announced Johnson as the starting right tackle yesterday without seeing the 26-year-old or knowing if he was in shape, Johnson said today he weighs 322 pounds, which is only slightly up from his 319-pound stature when he left. He worked out for about five weeks during his suspension with a few baseball players, and is sticking to his guarantee of not using any supplements anymore.
“This is hard. I don’t care who believes it or not. Words can’t express anything. I’m just going to have to show by action. Over the next few years, less talk and more action,” Johnson said. “I don’t put the blame on others. I’m on a lot of people’s shit list, but I got a few people on my shit list as well.”
During Johnson’s suspension, he filed unfair labor practice charges against both the NFL and NFLPA. His lawyers have accused both the league and the players’ union of not abiding by the collective bargaining agreement, and he estimated today that the lawsuits would get settled in the next few months.
“I just wish the [suspension and appeals] process would come sooner, not take so long and not be so dragged out,” Johnson said. “The next CBA, I think there will be a lot of things changed. You see a lot of voices like Richard Sherman with disapproval about how things go on. So I think a lot of things will change come 2020.”
To replace Johnson, rookie fifth-round pick Halapoulivaati Vaitai started the first six games of Johnson’s ban, Allen Barbre started the next three and Isaac Seumalo started the final one. Johnson noted how the injuries “messed up the continuity of the line,” which limited the success of the unit.
He also labeled Seumalo and Vaitai as “valuable assets,” but added that he aims to prove his standing in the NFL in the final two games of the season.
“I still feel I’m one of the best right tackles in the league, if not the best right tackle there is,” Johnson said. “But having said that, I still got a lot to prove and I want to keep proving that every game I’m out there.”