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Falcons DT Eills Johnson comtemplates retirement......


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Yesterday I posted the thread about how the NY Jets were having a hard time signing their 1st round pick, U. of Kentucky DT Dewayne Robertson.

Well now it seems that the team we face in the game after the Jets, the Atlanta Falcons, might be hurting at DT as well, as DT Eills Johnson is thinking about retirement:


Falcon resurfaces, ponders future

Matt Winkeljohn - Staff

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Flowery Branch --- Falcons defensive lineman Ellis Johnson missed the second and final day of mandatory mini-camp Friday, but at least team officials know his whereabouts. That's more than they could say a day earlier.

The eight-year veteran is home in Indianapolis, contemplating whether he wants to continue playing for the Falcons or retire. The issue is complicated by the decision Johnson and his wife, Simone, made last season to keep their two children in school in Indiana.

Falcons officials spoke late Thursday with Johnson's agents, David Levine and Marc Pollack, and it took them a while to find their client. Johnson still has not spoken directly with team officials since he left Thursday morning. When contacted Friday by the Journal-Constitution, Levine declined to comment.

Johnson, who had 54 tackles last season while finishing second in the NFL to Tampa Bay's Warren Sapp among interior defensive linemen with seven sacks, took his physical Wednesday and was present at team meetings Thursday morning. He vanished before players took the field at 10:30 a.m.

"Being away from his family, those are the kinds of things bothering him," coach Dan Reeves said. "Until I hear from [Johnson] personally, I really don't know [more]."

After asking for and getting his release in August from the Colts, for whom he played the first seven years of his career, Johnson signed a three-year, $4.3 million contract with the Falcons shortly before the regular season.

But he and his wife decided to keep their home in Indiana, where the Johnsons own two farms.

Last season, he spoke of his time away from his family as being "the most difficult thing I've ever done."

Attempts by The Journal-Constitution to reach Johnson on Friday were unsuccessful.

After spending the first seven years of his career with the Colts, who drafted him in the first round, 15th overall, in 1995, he is financially secure. He owns another farm in his native Florida.

He is in a position where he does not need the $1.25 million salary due him this season, and he told team officials shortly after last season that he was considering retirement.

Asked when the Falcons needed a decision from Johnson, Reeves said the July 24 reporting date for training camp at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., was as good a time as any but did not call it a deadline.

"Hopefully, he'll show up for training camp," said Reeves, whose team would be short-handed on the defensive line without Johnson.

When incumbent starting nose guard Ed Jasper underwent back surgery this spring, Johnson became a possible starter. Jasper, who practiced Thursday and Friday after missing passing camp while rehabilitating, worked as the No. 1 nose guard.

Former practice squad member Ryan Watson and rookie free agent Floyd Black worked behind him.

If Johnson were to retire, Travis Hall likely would figure into the noseguard rotation. He's currently working mostly at backup defensive end.

It is unlikely team officials will try to persuade Johnson to return to the team, as they did in January. They will leave the decision up to him.

"Reality has set in," Reeves said. "Ellis has got to be honest with himself, and I know he's struggling with it. I just want his heart into it, and that's what he's struggling with."

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I love Ellis Johnson the way I love most former Gators, but the timing of this is really piss-poor and unfair to the organization and his (former) teammates. I'm sure we all remember how pleased we were with David Brandt last year and he probably wasn't as important to us as the EJ is to the Dirty Birds.

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