Johnson part of Raider Nation
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – This is one summer Adam Johnson won’t soon forget.
Johnson, the head student manager of the Nevada football team and a Douglas High graduate, is just finishing up a summer internship with the Oakland Raiders. He is expected to return to Nevada on Aug. 24.
His plethora of duties with the Raiders is the same as it is with Nevada – set up the field before each practice, take down the field after practice and help repair equipment.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Johnson said during a phone interview from the Raiders’ training camp in Napa, Calif. “It’s been a chance to work with a bunch of great people. I’ve learned a lot, and the Raiders have been great to me.
“They are letting me learn. If I can show them a better way of doing things, they let me do it my way. They have just been really great.”
Johnson has been working under the guidance of Bobby Romanski, the team’s equipment manager. Craig Hopkins, Nevada’s director of football operations, was instrumental in getting Johnson his internship.
“Craig called Bobby Romanski and asked if they needed a guy,” Johnson said. “Craig gave me Bobby’s number, and it just worked out. I can’t thank him enough for (helping me get) the experience.”
“He’s done a good job for us,” Hopkins said. “It was a reward. It was a chance for him to work somewhere else, see how other people do things, and get some experience at that level.”
Hopkins said he wanted Johnson to have the NFL experience in case he’s thinking about a full-time career in the equipment field at the college level or NFL. All it took was one summer for Johnson to know football could be a career.
“I’ve been totally thinking about it as a career. One of the guys that was at Nevada last year, interned with the Texans, and he raved about the experience. Going into it, I wasn’t sure (about a career). It’s definitely up there. Either way, it’s opened a lot of doors by doing this. I still want to get my degree in education, though.”
Spending daily time around players like Randy Moss, LaMont Jordan and Aaron Brooks is exciting enough, but the biggest thrill of the summer came last week when Johnson accompanied the team to Canton, Ohio, for the annual Hall of Fame game.
“It was unbelievable,” Johnson said. “It was my first professional game ever, and not only was I standing on the sidelines, but it was at the Hall of Fame. I was standing three feet away from everybody that got inducted into the Hall of Fame that weekend. You couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Johnson didn’t get to watch former Raider coach John Madden get inducted that weekend, but he did get to tour the Hall of Fame.
“Seeing the busts (of the inducted players), it was one thing after another,” Johnson said. “I saw all the Super Bowl rings. I pointed out (to others in the traveling party) that Nevada had a player in the Hall of Fame (Marion Motley).”
While Johnson said the trip was a lot of fun, it was also a lot of work. The team practiced in Akron on Saturday, which meant that Johnson and the rest of the crew had to unload and load equipment twice in that span.
Johnson’s tour with the Raiders ends on Sunday with the 49ers-Raiders game in Oakland. He told Romanski he’d like to come back during the season to help on game days, and he’s interested in returning next summer.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Johnson said. “I definitely want to do it. I want to help during game days to keep my face in the crowd.”
Hopkins will be happy to get him back in Reno. His experience, leadership and maturity has been missed since fall camp started. A football player at Douglas, Johnson never had done any managerial work. He proved to be a quick study.
“I definitely have seen a change (maturity level),” Hopkins said. “Any college kid wants to have fun. Then you realize you have to start paying attention or your not going to make it.
“Like anybody new, he had to learn the system; how we do things here and what needed to be done. You show Adam something once, and he’s good to go.”
Hopkins said Johnson called early during camp with the Raiders and told him he’d learned a new way to break in new footballs. Might sound mundane to some, but it’s important to the players.
“Equipment-wise, there are 50 ways to skin a cat,” Hopkins said. “He may come back with ideas on how we can do things better, and that’s good.”
That means that Johnson’s summer work paid off.
Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281