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NFL Receiver Overcomes Biggest Obstacle…Himself

Minnesota Vikings receiver Charles Johnson shares ho he almost squandered his chances of making it to the NFL and how his struggles brought him closer to God. Read Transcript


NARRATOR: NFL wide receiver Charles Johnson

is considered one of the deadliest

weapons in the Minnesota Vikings' air assault.

In 2014, his first season with the team,

he had 31 receptions for 475 yards in just 11 games.

CJ was living his dream.

But before making it to the NFL, Charles

had to overcome his biggest obstacle-- himself.

It was a journey that began when he was a student athlete

at Eastern Kentucky University.

I was a true freshman.

I was very immature.

I started just hanging out with friends, wanting to be cool.

I thought I was big timing, or something.

I don't know what I thought.

NARRATOR: Charles grew up in northern Kentucky.

He accepted Christ while attending Young Life Bible

studies in high school.

But when he went off to college, he

says he shoved his faith in the backseat.

I started slipping away a little bit more,

because I was at school.

I wasn't around it anymore.

NARRATOR: As a result, Charles lost focus on his priorities.

He started getting into trouble with the school officials.

We used to just get in trouble for the dumbest things.

Like we got in trouble for taking a couch out of lobby,

putting it in our room.

We got in trouble for fighting with fire extinguishers

in the hallways.

NARRATOR: He was eventually suspended

from the University for two years, and had to return home.

And on the drive back, he got the wake-up call of his life.

It was pouring rain.

And I'm going about 80 in the fast lane.

So once I tapped the brake, I start to hydroplane.

And my tail starts to spin out.

I just smash into the median.

When I smash, I looked back to see

what's coming to hit me as I'm spinning out.

And two semis, zoom, zoom, spin right by me, and I just stop.

I drove off to the side.

I was crying.

So what changed in your heart?

What changed?

That could have been the end of me.

That could have been the end of Charles Johnson.

I really need to tighten up and figure out what I wanted to do.

NARRATOR: It was too late for him to be added

to another school's roster.

And his only option was to play at Antelope Valley Community

College in California.

Trying to make it to the NFL from a junior college

can be nearly impossible.

I go through that.

I'm going to school playing ball.

Struggling, eating ramen noodles every day.

NARRATOR: Charles had a great year with the martyrs.

But things off the field once again derailed his plan.

His girlfriend Caitlin had become pregnant.

He also received news that his father was ill.

And he had no idea how he was going to provide for a child

or help his father.

So he went to God in prayer.

I prayed.

Let me find a way.

You just give me the calling, and I'll answer.

NARRATOR: Charles rededicated his life to the Lord.

The Lord gave you a call?


He's like, man, here's what you need to do, man.

Football is for you.

This is what you've got to go do.

I went to another school.

I took classes at a local community college

just to finish up my degree.

I was working at Arby's, working at Olive Garden back to back.

Still trying to stay in shape for football, because I knew

I wanted to go back.

NARRATOR: Charles earned a spot in Grand Valley State

University, a Division II school in Michigan.

And he knows that it was all because of the Lord.

All the struggle I had went through to that point,

He continued to give me strength to endure, and to keep

moving forward.

And one of my favorite scriptures

is the Philippians 4:13.

A lot of people use it, but I live by it

because I know it's true.

He gives me that strength.

NARRATOR: Charles had a stellar career at Grand Valley State.

Though he wasn't invited to the NFL combine,

he impressed scouts at his senior pro day,

and was selected in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL draft

by the Green Bay Packers.

He made his way to Minnesota by way of Cleveland

in September of 2014.

And it didn't take him long to earn the starting job.

I got worked in slowly at first.

I was getting five plays a game, 10 plays a game, 20 plays.

Then boom, I'm starting.

NARRATOR: Today, Charles and Caitlin

are married with two children.

And his father's health has improved.

He says if there is one thing he's

learned during this journey, it is

that all things work together for good when you love God

and follow His call.

I just thank Jesus Christ.

If you're going through something,

if nobody else is going to be there, He's going to be there.

I can guarantee you that.

He may not respond the way that you want Him to sometimes,

but He's listening.

And it's been a long journey, but He's blessed me.

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