Blue Bomber Report Record: 4–1–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Johnson feeling the love again

Once-disgruntled defender signs contract extension with Bombers

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Jovan JOHNSON is finally happy. And also a little contrite.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced Thursday that contentious off-season talks on a contract extension for the import cornerback -- which included Johnson going public on several occasions, including as recently as last week, with his displeasure -- have concluded with a new deal for the CFL's Outstanding Defensive Player in 2011.

Johnson, who was headed into his option year in 2012, said he signed a new one-year deal, plus an option.

"I just wanted to be sure where I was going to play at and be sure that, be confident, that the team I was going to play for wanted me," Johnson said in a teleconference Thursday afternoon. "I'd said that over and over and over again and that's where I ultimately wanted to be...

"Things worked out for me and the organization and I'm looking forward to 2012."

That's a far cry from where Johnson was just last week, when he took to his Twitter account to express his frustration with the progress of negotiations.

"This looks like it'll be my last season in BLUE and GOLD! I love all my fans- hope wherever I end up im loved!!," Johnson tweeted, later adding: "Either take pennies and stay or go elsewhere and I'm kinda in disbelief."

The tweets were an echo of more extended comments Johnson made to the Free Press in January in which he suggested he felt unappreciated by Bombers management after a historic 2011 season in which he became the first defensive back in CFL history to be named outstanding defensive player.

Johnson quickly deleted his tweets last week and subsequently tweeted several apologies to Bombers fans and management, contrition he reiterated with reporters on Thursday.

"Players make mistakes and I'm a man and I admit that," said Johnson. "I never had any intention of questioning our management and staff because they do a tremendous job of bringing in players and also signing players that we need. It was just one of those things where emotionally I kind of got upset.

"But it happens to the best of us and they look forward to me being a leader on this team and I look forward to going out and doing that. It starts with me and will go down all the way to whoever is the last player on our roster. You can't make mistakes like that and I understand that.

"It was definitely the reason I apologized so quickly (after the tweets). I thought about it and it definitely wasn't a good look for me as a player or for what people considered to be a shot at the organization. Because that's not at all the case."

Johnson was vague when asked what changed so dramatically in negotiations between last week and this week.

"Nothing really changed. Everything that happened is between me and management," said Johnson. "We came to a mutual agreement and everything worked out for the best for both of us."

Bombers GM Joe Mack pointed out on Thursday that Johnson plays a larger role for the Bombers than just as a defender.

"Clearly, Jovon Johnson is one of the marquee players in this league and we are thrilled to lock him down for the foreseeable future," Mack said in a statement. "His versatility to play special teams in addition to his regular role on defence makes him an even greater asset for us. We are looking for him to take a larger leadership role this season and are confident he is in a position to do so."

Johnson led the CFL in 2011 with eight interceptions -- returning two for touchdowns -- and he added 594 punt-return yards to move up to fourth on the Bombers' all-time list. The 2012 season will be his fifth with the Bombers.

Johnson becomes the third player this week from last season's East Division champion squad to sign a contract extension. On Wednesday, the club announced non-import receivers Kito Poblah and Cory Watson had signed extensions.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 30, 2012 C1

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