Spring 2021 Magazine

New Broncos LB A.J. Johnson says God 'took care' of him during criminal trial

A.J. Johnson has not played football in three years, but he’s now an official member of the Denver Broncos.

The former Tennessee Volunteers stud, a three-time All-SEC honoree whose 425 career tackles from 2011-2014 rank second in school history, was last seen on the field before his name mostly served as the headline for a criminal case. Indicted in February 2015 along with ex-Vols teammate Michael Williams “after a woman accused both men of raping her,” according to NFL Network, Johnson was suspended by Tennessee shortly afterward, and he never saw the field for the Volunteers again.

Three years later, Johnson has been acquitted of aggravated rape charges, and he’s been thrust into Denver’s defense as a highly touted undrafted free agent.

The long, polarizing process — which has finally freed Johnson from a legal perspective — would not have unfolded as it did, according to Johnson, without some help from God. If not for dependence on the Lord, he’s repeated in multiple interviews since signing with the Broncos, Johnson may as well have remained a college outcast rather than  a legitimate and personally redeemed NFL hopeful.

“God is good, man,” he told Broncos reporters this week. “I had a lot of faith, and I knew God was going to take care of me.”

“I trusted in God,” he said in July after he was acquitted, per The Washington Post. “He took care of it.”

Cleared by a Knox County jury this summer, Johnson officially went undrafted in 2015 after the conclusion of his college career at Tennessee. In Denver, he’ll attempt to crack the Broncos’ 53-man roster as a reserve linebacker, and he’ll have three preseason games to do so.

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