Former Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson will be at the Dick's Sporting Goods store in Richfield from 4-6 p.m. today as part of a partnership to increase awareness about the importance of baseline testing to properly treat concussions in youth sports. He'll also be signing autographs.
"I have two boys in youth sports, so that's a concern of ours," Johnson said by phone this afternoon. "I've also had two concussions during my playing days. One playing basketball in college. The other playing football in 1996, I think. So I'm definitely concerned."
Concussions have been a hot-button issue in the NFL for a couple seasons now. Johnson said he wanted to do something to help extend the awareness and treatment of concussion to the lower levels of athletics, particularly youth sports. His sons, Max, 10, and Jake, 8, play multiple sports. Max is a quarterback. Jake is a fullback/tight end.
Dick's Sporting Goods created a program called PACE, or Protecting Athletes through Concussion Education. The program will provide concussion education and baseline testing for up to one million young athletes in more than 3,300 middle and high schools nationwide.
I also talked to Johnson about some other topics. Here are the highlights:
Q: What do you think of the Donovan McNabb trade and how do you think he'll do?
A: I think this transition will be smoother for him. He was in one place for a long time. The first time you make a transition, it's hard. You don't know where you're living. You don't know the system. You don't know your teammates. That will make this transition easier for him. Plus, the system with Bill Musgrave is more similar to what Donovan ran in Philadelphia for all those years. I think that will help. He can still play and it was probably a wise choice for Minnesota to go get him.
Q: What are your thoughts on the fact the Vikings are going to take it slow with Christian Ponder?
A: The slow-path thing is not a bad thing. That's what happened with Philip Rivers sitting behind Drew Brees. That's what happened with Eli Manning behind Kurt Warner. That's what happened with Carson Palmer behind Kitna. That's what happened with Michael Vick behind Chris Chandler. It's what Steve McNair did. It's what I did. I think there's some validity to that path. This is a great situation for Christian and Donovan.
Q: Does McNabb have anything left?
A: Donovan can still play. I wouldn't get caught up into what happened last year. I think the system suits him better this year. And he's still young. I think everyone should jump on his bandwagon and roll with it. When Christian's time comes, he'll get his chance.
Q: Musgrave and coach Leslie Frazier have both made it a point to say how much they like and encourage player input when it comes to molding a system to fit the players. Brad Childress was known for not being open to that and wanting his players to adapt to the system. Was that a problem for you with Brad?
A: Well, you know what, I think you're play-caller and your quarterback have to be on the same page and agree upon things. The more friendly the system is to the quarterback, the more successful the team is going to be, the more successful the quarterback is going to be. That's why you find teams that are good. You got the play-caller and the quarterback who agree upon what plays they want to run and what the audibles are. So I think there has to be some dialogue there. It definitely is something that has to happen. It's different for every team. Coach Childress had his way of doing things. That's the way things go. But you also can't fault him for too much. He did take them to the NFC Championship game in Brett's first year here.
Q: What kind of quarterback is Max at 10 years of age?
A: He's stubborn. He's hard-headed. He wants to do his own thing. So that means he's got a great chance of being a great quarterback some day.