Paris Johnson fun facts: Following dad to Cardinals, a journalism career and beef jerky

Apr 28, 2023, 9:35 AM | Updated: May 11, 2023, 8:25 am

(L-R) Paris Johnson Jr. poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected sixth overal...

(L-R) Paris Johnson Jr. poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected sixth overall by the Arizona Cardinals during the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station on April 27, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY — The Arizona Cardinals added to their offensive line in a big way Thursday.

Nabbing former Ohio State offensive lineman Paris Johnson following some maneuvering around the draft board via trades from new general manager Monti Ossenfort, Arizona gets a prospect who could not only be an important piece for the future but also in the immediate.

There’s much more than just football when it comes to Johnson, too.

So, in an effort to better know the No. 6 overall pick, here are some interesting tidbits on the newest Cardinal and former Ohio State Buckeye:

It runs in the family

Interestingly enough, Johnson isn’t the first Cardinal in the family. Twenty-four years before the lineman heard his name called Thursday night, his father, Paris Johnson Sr., was a safety taken in the fifth round of the 1999 NFL Draft.

Johnson Sr., however, never played in an NFL game.

It’s a full-circle moment for the younger Johnson, who does not have a relationship with his father but is excited to do what his dad couldn’t.

“My dad was a fifth-round pick here. I know my family had high expectations, and unfortunately, he didn’t meet those expectations,” Johnson said. “I feel like (24 years) later, God’s been preparing me the whole time and my whole life to be able to do what a Cardinal is supposed to do at that standard.

“I’m trying to do what he couldn’t do,” the lineman added. “That’s what I want to bring to the team, do what he couldn’t do. I want to make this name great in the hall of Cardinals that came before me.”

Pen to paper

From the sounds of it, Johnson has a way with words.

Majoring in journalism at Ohio State, the lineman graduated with his degree in less than three years and was a diversity and accessibility beat writer for the school newspaper, The Lantern.

But of the stories he wrote, there’s one in particular that stands out above the rest.

I wrote a story about my friend (Thayer Munford),” Johnson said. “He came back for another year to finish his degree and to prove his draft stock. He really could have left, but he wanted to ensure his first promise to his mom to stay there and get a degree before he left.

“Being able to cover that story was super cool. It was a different perspective because I was close enough with him where he talked to me versus other people he didn’t want to talk to, ESPN and whatnot.”

Munford did just that, graduating with a degree in human development family services before the Raiders took him with a seventh-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Check and check.

What did you just say?

In addition to picking up blitzes and defenders, Johnson also picked up a few different languages over the course of his life. He speaks Mandarin and Portuguese.

Spanish on the other hand, not so much.

“As far as the Chinese stuff, I was kind of forced as a kid. Forced to do Spanish and Chinese as a fifth grader was a lot,” Johnson said. “But Chinese came pretty easy. There’s only one way to say things, so it was pretty easy. I got pretty close to fluent in that.

“I haven’t practiced with a lot of people since I got to Ohio State, so I kind of lost most of it. But, my mom, her background is in education. So taking education seriously is everything to her.”

With Johnson now set to reside in the southwest, maybe Spanish deserves another shot?

Giving back already

He’s still relatively young, but Johnson has already dove into giving back to those who need it most.

With the help of his mother Monica Daniels, the lineman created the Paris Johnson Foundation. Its mission is to “empower and serve disabled veterans and disadvantaged student-athletes with dignity and respect” by making sure they have the necessary resources.

“As far as my foundation, (my mother) instilled the value that sacrifice is everything,” Johnson said. “I value people who sacrifice. I’m a God-fearing man. I know that Jesus had the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Right after that, the biggest one is every single man or woman that is on the frontline to protect us, so I can enjoy this moment right now. This opportunity was paid for by them. It’s not free.”

So far, the foundation has served more than 100 veterans and 350 student-athletes while raising $15,000 and helping five charities along the way.

I have a feeling this is just the beginning for Johnson.

Did someone say, ‘Jerky?’

No NIL deals are alike.

While some players might want the flashiest of NIL deals, Johnson wanted one that a) not only helped him but gave back to those in need and b) tasted good.

He got both thanks to Charqui Jerky Co. and his personal flavor dubbed “Paris’ Cut.”

In addition to the good eats, a portion of the proceeds benefit 2nd & 7, which promotes reading at a young age through free books and role models and the Paris Johnson Foundation.

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Western Governors University

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