BEST GOOD SPORT Minneapolis 1999 -
"If it weren't for bad luck," the old saying goes, "I'd have no luck at all." Surely, former Viking quarterback Brad Johnson had reason to contemplate that sour perspective a few times during these past few years. After dutifully toting the clipboard for the first four seasons of his professional career, Johnson has made the most of his opportunities as a Viking. He finished his first season of meaningful action ('96) with the league's third highest QB rating. He turned in strong performances as a starter in '97. And then the bad luck started. In late '97, he suffered a freakish, career-threatening neck injury while, of all things, sleeping. The kink sapped all the strength from his passing arm. Yet, after a rigorous off-season rehab, Johnson returned in '98. Then, in the second game, he broke his leg and--very shortly thereafter, though no one admitted it at the time--he lost his job to Randall Cunningham. Later in the season, when Cunningham suffered a minor knee injury against New Orleans, Johnson came back on the field for a half. Played well. Broke his thumb. Done for the year. Again. Through it all, Johnson never griped or complained. He politely answered reporters' questions about his supposed frailty, about possible trades, and about Randall Cunningham's fabulous season. And when he got shipped off to the Washington Redskins (who haven't made the playoffs since '92), there wasn't a single bitter peep from Johnson about the prospects of going from the NFL's best offense to one of its worst.