CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - John Johnson III, or “JJIII” as he calls himself, had heard a lot about the city of Cleveland, and Browns fans, over the years. A lot. Especially from his roommate at Boston College, Kevin Kavalec, a St. Ignatius grad.
“He was born and raised in Cleveland, loves this city,” Johnson said. “He’ll choose this place over anywhere.”
And Johnson chose this place over anywhere as well, because he sees where the Browns could be headed. To a place he’s already been. The Super Bowl.
In fact, when he sees some of the playmakers on this defense, he’s reminded of a couple of guys on the Rams.
“You talk about coming from the #1 defense, you got Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. I see Denzel Ward and Myles Garrett. It’s the same thing,” Johnson said. “What I see right now is a lot of guys that can play football, that love to play football, that have played great football.”
Takk McKinley, the former Falcons defensive end, is also embracing his new opportunity, in more ways than one. Like Johnson, he came into the league in 2017, as a first-round pick. But while JJIII went on to become a captain with the Rams, McKinley, after two strong seasons, played his way right out of Atlanta.
He says he’s matured, and ready to prove it.
“Life is a roller coaster,” McKinley said. “And for me, the best thing is to learn from my mistakes. I’m not perfect. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my past.
“Sometimes a fresh start is the best thing for everyone.”
He knows this: he’s wanted here. The Browns tried to claim him off waivers three times, he says, and trade for him.
Funny how things work out.
“This league is not promised, it’s a privilege,” McKinley says. “I’m at the point in my career, if I want to be in this league, I need to start acting like it.”