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Jaylon Johnson grateful for support from family, friends


Cornerbacks often play "on an island." But Bears All-Pro Jaylon Johnson understands that he didn't become one of the NFL's best players at his position all by himself.

That was evident when he walked into his press conference Monday at Halas Hall after signing a four-year contract accompanied by his mom, dad, stepmom, brother, girlfriend, agent and close friends.

"I want to thank my family for pushing me since I was a little boy to be the best man and best player I can be," said the 24-year-old, who had agreed to the extension last Thursday.

"My parents sacrificed more than a lot to make sure I had everything I needed. My dad always taught me about how powerful the mind is. He taught me self-motivation. He taught me how to get my mind right to perform, and I've done that since I was a little boy. My mom showed me what strong faith looks like. Even when I didn't want to hear it, she tells me what the godly thing to do or to say is. She has been a big influence on my relationship with God."

Johnson's older brother, John, played defensive back at UCLA from 2013-17.

"My brother, I can't say enough about him that will do any justice," Jaylon said, "but I just want to say, 'We did it. You did it.' When you didn't make it to the league after you devoted your life to the game, it hurt me. But you grew something in me that I didn't know was growing and that was the thirst for greatness. You have been everything I needed in my life as a brother, a trainer and a friend.

"We laugh all day, but when it's time to work, damn it, we work. We are built off work and more work. You've pushed me to train in over 100 degrees since I was in middle school. You pushed me to limits I didn't know I had, but that's what you did to yourself. You gave me that same devotion, so I want to thank you publicly."

Johnson praised his girlfriend "for loving me through the light, through the darkness," and "for being my biggest fan and my toughest critic."

"You hype me up and you keep me humble all at the same time," he said. "You push me to grow to new limits, so I want to thank you."

Johnson thanked his "lord and savior, Jesus Christ." He also lauded "friends that have become family through tough times and good ones," his hometown of Fresno, Calif., and Salt Lake City (where he attended the University of Utah), "for taking me as a young kid out of Fresno and helping me achieve my dreams of playing in the NFL."

Johnson continued by thanking the McCaskey family and Bears general manager Ryan Poles and the front office, as well as the team's coaches, trainers, strength staff, equipment department, nutritionist and cafeteria workers.

"This organization believed in me from Day 1 and has continued to show that belief in me," Johnson said.

"I also want to thank the city for backing me since I came to the 'Chi.' You guys are a tough crowd at times, but you love your Bears and you want us to be the best we can be, and I love and respect you guys for that. I'm looking to bring more wins and championships to this city while I'm here. To my teammates, I want to say thank you for loving me and letting my life shine, for being good-hearted people and having a thirst to win, and trust me, it's coming soon."

A 2020 second-round pick, Johnson has started all 53 games he's played over four seasons with the Bears, registering 161 tackles, five interceptions and 41 pass breakups. Last year he was voted second-team All-Pro and named to his first Pro Bowl after compiling 36 tackles, a career-high four interceptions—one of which he returned 39 yards for his first career touchdown—and 10 pass breakups.

Johnson assured reporters that his new contract won't adversely impact his desire to perform at an All-Pro level.

"The contract changes some people, but I'm not one of those," he said. "I've still got a lot to prove to myself. Goals just continue to be set and you set new ones. The money doesn't stop the hunger."

Johnson is also determined to prove that his career year in 2023 wasn't a fluke.

"I feel like people think it's luck doing it one time," he said. "So, I guess the challenge for me is to do it again, to do it better.

"I want to be able to have that yellow (Hall of Fame) jacket. I want to be the best '33' to wear the jersey. I have those type of goals and aspirations. I know that with things like that, to get a yellow jacket, you have to be consistently great. My goal is to consistently be great, to have years like I've had for back-to-back-to-back seasons."

Get an exclusive look at Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson arriving in Chicago, signing his contract and posting for photos at Halas Hall after inking a four-year extension Monday.

Early in his press conference, Johnson openly discussed a personal situation he dealt with last year.

"I went to therapy last season for sexual addiction," he said. "That was the hardest thing for me to open up to my therapist about as that is something nobody knew about. As I'm shining on the field on Sundays, I'm battling myself to grow throughout the week, and in that growth, God blessed me with the best season of my life, so I know that God is with me, and He deserves all the honor and glory for where I am today."

Johnson decided to share such an intimate aspect of his private life to help remove the stigma of addiction and encourage those who are suffering to seek treatment.

"It's bigger than me," he said. "For one, it's because I know I'm not the only one going through it. Two, it's OK to go through stuff. It's OK to not be perfect and I feel like people put us literally on this pedestal to get up here and talk and [think], 'Oh well, guys are this, guys are that.' Like man, we are human too. We go through things. Everybody goes through things. I feel like people feel like you've got to put a mask on, you've got to cover it up. Like naw, it's OK to go through things. It's OK to seek help. It's OK to be vulnerable."

Several Bears players congratulated Johnson on his contract extension. Watch Johnson react to the messages below.

To celebrate Jaylon Johnson staying in Chicago thanks to a four-year contract extension, take a look at some of the best images of the cornerback from his first four NFL seasons.