Former Irish DE Johnson pursuing NFL career to honor father's memory
"You only get one dad in this life and I love my dad very much", Johnson says.
"He had a huge impact on my life."
After a stellar career for the Irish, playing in all but four games in his career and starting 37, Ethan chose not work out for NFL scouts, putting a professional career in jeopardy.
"I basically didn't interview for a job. It's like not interviewing for a job even though you're a clear applicant for it or you have the credentials."
He stayed in shape: But his mind and his heart were elsewhere. With his ailing father, who was quickly losing his fight with a neurological disorder.
"I knew it was coming to a point of no return because of the situation. It was a terrible situation. I thought I not going to go (to the NFL) this year because my dad's neurological disorder caused by a military related disaster in 2003.
"He truly was a hero. He was special security in the Army. He protected the commanding officer in Iraq. That was his detail."
Ethan's father Daniel was an Oregon state trooper and national guardsman, who served his country in Iraq in 2003, when some US troops were exposed to deadly chemicals. He died from complications from the chemical exposure on May 23rd of this year.
"When my dad left for Iraq, there were a lot of sacrifices. I'm getting emotional talking about it..."
Playing in the NFL wasn't only Ethan's dream. It was also his dad's dream for his son.
"As I was talking with dad he said, 'I want you to do what God wants you to do. He's not making it easy for you to come help'. That was really tough for me. I was upset about that."
Ethan listened, and by late April...he was there. A free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs.
"It's exciting. I'm blessed beyond belief."
"I hope he'd be more proud of the person I am that what I do on the football field, because at the end of the day, it's just a game."