New beginning for QB

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:31 AM ET

Jason Johnson isn't going to lie.

Retiring from the Edmonton Eskimos before the start of yesterday's opening of main training camp wasn't easy.

But the personable backup quarterback knows there is much more to life than football.

"My dream," said Johnson, "is to produce movies and television shows."

So, the personable 27-year-old has understandably taken a job to produce and direct a 12-part series called Gametime for TSN that will air late this summer.

OTHER FACTORS

There are other contributing factors for leaving the game - being stuck behind Ricky Ray on the Eskimos depth chart and being the marketing director for Booster Juice - but Johnson knows the TSN opportunity is very important.

"In coming to this decision I had a couple of long talks, especially with Ricky Ray and Jason Maas," said Johnson.

"We all kind of had a little powwow.

"And I realized that I have so many big aspirations that right now is a time I couldn't really turn these things down."

Anybody closely following the Eskimos knew that Johnson was in for a dogfight to be on the Eskimos' roster this season.

LONG SHOT TO MAKE IT

With younger and promising quarterbacks Steven Jyles and Stefan LeFors under contract, Johnson was a long shot to make it.

But the three-year member of the Green and Gold wasn't afraid of the competition.

And head coach Danny Maciocia denies Johnson was simply a training camp body to alleviate stress on the other quarterback arms.

"I don't believe in camp bodies," stated Maciocia.

"Every single player who took the field here today has a legitimate shot of winning a job.

"But he was in for a battle, there is no question about it."

After a great college career at Arizona - where he graduated with the single-season record for passing yards - Johnson never really got a chance to show his worth in regular-season games.

He only had 22 passing attempts in three years in Edmonton.

But Ray will miss him.

The pair was so tight - along with Jason Maas in 2005 - that Johnson's production company made a documentary on their lives.

"He has been a good friend of mine the last few years," said Ray. "Not to have him out here and have him in the locker-room is a little bit different."

Ron (Goldie) McClendon knows Johnson still has the talent to play in the CFL.

"The guy had a lot of football left in him," said McClendon.

"I didn't want to see (the retirement) happen. When he is on his game, he is as good as anybody."

Now he is going to be profiling the lives of other CFL players in the Gametime series.

"What the show does is take 12 different players in the league and tells their life story," said Johnson.

"I think one of the neatest things about this league is that every guy in Canada has a crazy, unique story."

Jason Tucker - a top receiver in the summer and a Texas rancher in the winter - will likely be the Eskimo player in the series.

FINISH LINES: By retiring before the season starts, Johnson can come back and play for the Eskimos this year. If the club were suddenly down to two quarterbacks, Johnson would be a logical emergency call-up.

---

DAY 1 CAMP FILE

WHO'S HOT

Patrick Johnson, WR 80

Flashed major speed from the first ball thrown his way yesterday morning.

Ricky Ray, QB 15

Didn't miss a bear on Day 1, throwing the ball precisely where it needed to be.

WHO'S NOT

Ryan Kelly, WR 70

Clobbered by J.R. LaRose, Kelly injured his left hamstring on the play and didn't return.

Kamau Peterson, WR 8

Dropped two seemingly catchable balls.

NOTES

RB Ron (Goldie) McClendon has switched from No. 24 to No. 5 this season. It's his old high school and college number. "It's a whole new outlook for me - and I will start with the number," said McClendon, who has a chance to be the top running back ... LB Mike Botterill has switched to No. 55 ... As expected, McClendon is first on the depth chart at running back, ahead of Josh Ranek. For what it's worth - as CFL depth charts always seem to be questionable in some area - other intriguing listings for Day 1 of camp: Ricky Bell is first strong-side linebacker ahead of Ray Perryman, Jabari Issa is first defensive tackle beside Rob Brown, Shannon Garrett is first at one cornerback position ahead of Jonte Buhl.

INJURIES

QB Jason Johnson has retired.


Videos

Photos