Brad Johnson's plan for this April day is a light one — tutor a young quarterback on throwing mechanics in the afternoon, have dinner with his family in the evening. But first he's got to get out of bed and down the stairs of his home. It's the hardest part of his day, every day. "I go down one step at a time with two feet. One step. One step. One step," the 44-year-old former NFL quarterback says. "My 73-year-old dad was visiting and I told my son to help him get his suitcases up the steps. He walks slow and he's got a bad knee. He starts walking and my son turns to me and he says, 'Dad, he walks just like you.' "I never thought it would be like this." Retired since 2008, Johnson says he's happier today — mentoring young quarterbacks and coaching his sons in football and basketball — than he was during his 17 seasons in the NFL. He won a Super Bowl and made enough money to spend most of his time with his family — wife, Nikki, and their sons, ages 10 and 12. But it all came with a price, one that more than 200 rookies will begin to face this summer after this week's NFL draft. Johnson's advice: "You've got to do the work. You've got to put in the time. Otherwise, you'll be passed by somebody that's better than you. If you can play, you play." And the pain? "You live with it." For Nikki, it's hard to witness. "I hate it for him. ... I think about what it will be like 10, 20 years from now," she says.
Brad Johnson paying physical price for long NFL career
USA Today | Apr 24