Former Vikings WR Charles Johnson got emotional about AAF folding

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) Charles Johnson
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) Charles Johnson /

Charles Johnson had some great games with the Minnesota Vikings but his passion for football was reignited during his time playing in the AAF.

The NFL is a tough place to have a career. Even players who can put together multiple great games can have trouble staying with a team or finding a place where they are happy. That is the case for former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson.

In three years with the Vikings, Johnson proved he could contribute when his number was called. From 2014-2016, he played in 39 games where he caught 60 passes for 834 yards and two touchdowns, averaging a solid 13.9 yards per catch.

Sadly, he was dealing with injuries that made staying on the field difficult. After he was let go by Minnesota, he had some short stays with the Panthers and the Jets. This was when he started to lose his love for the game of football.

"“Once I stop having fun, once I stop loving it, I ain’t going to play,” Johnson said in an article on the USA Today website. “There’s no point. I kind of lost that love.”"

Thinking that his football playing days were over, Johnson kept getting calls from his friends and family about a new league starting up. They said this could be a fun opportunity for him. Eventually, he gave in to that pressure and signed up for the Alliance of American Football.

Of course, the results of him playing again are obvious. The pass-catcher led the league with 687 yards before the organization folded, even racking up 200 yards in a game that saw his Orlando Apollos defeat the San Antonio Commanders in Week 2.

"“It was just all about the love for the game, and I really found that love out there, man. I’d see myself smiling, even on film. Even my friends, they’d watch the games online, and they said, ‘Uh oh. He’s smiling again.’ Usually, when I’m smiling, that’s when I’m at my best.”"

The season came to an abrupt end when the league could no longer sustain itself. The AAF folded and Charles Johnson was once again on the outside looking in. The idea of leaving football is one he didn’t take very well.

"“I ain’t going to lie,” he said. “We were in our meeting room. For me, I cried, I cried bad.”"

But that passion was still inside him. Rather than returning home and turning his back on football again, Johnson decided to give the NFL another try, landing a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles based on his previous NFL experience and the great work he did in the AAF.

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Football is a game of passion. Sometimes the message of fun and love of the game gets lost in the mix, but for former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson, his love and heartbreak in the AAF set him up for another opportunity to shine in the NFL.