VFL Inky Johnson with HC Josh Heupel. Photo via Tennessee Athletics/Josh Heupel on Twitter.
VFL Inky Johnson was back on Rocky Top this week.
The former Volunteer packing an inspirational story met with the Tennessee football team earlier this week and delivered a powerful message to the program: Appreciate the game.
“Value and appreciate the game,” Johnson said to the Tennessee team. “Because as much as you think it is promised to you, and you’re going to have it forever, it ain’t promised to none of us. Right? Because we live with an arrogant spirit and we feel as if we are promised something. And so every game, or every practice, we might not approach it like – man, do it as if it’s going to be your last time doing it.”
Johnson, a former Tennessee cornerback in the mid-2000s, was a two-time captain and was projecting as a first-round draft pick for the 2007 NFL Draft. Tragedy struck that season, though. During Tennessee’s 31-30 win over Air Force in the second game of the 2006 season, Johnson suffered a life-threatening injury that would paralyze his right arm.
“Cats ask me every single week, ‘Hey Ink, did you do anything different the day you got injured? Was anything different? Did you wear any different pads? Did you show up, was your pregame routine different?’” Johnson continued on to say. “I’m like, ‘Nah, bro. I showed up the exact same time. I did the exact same W-drill that I used to do every time I stepped in Neyland [Stadium].’ But the outcome was totally different.”
Today was special! I had a great time with @Vol_Football . Thanks to @coachjoshheupel and staff for the opportunity. pic.twitter.com/dLR57GfPug
— Inky Johnson (@inkyjohnson) February 2, 2023
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Since his injury, Johnson has found a new purpose in life. According to Johnson’s own official website, the former Volunteer legend has had “a burning desire to use his situation and experiences to add value to people’s lives.”
“But I can live with what happened to me,” Johnson said to the Tennessee team. “Because every single down, every single game, every single possession – I played and I competed like it was my last.”
Johnson’s ability to impact people’s lives using his words and his speeches have transcended many aspects of modern society. Johnson’s client list includes Chick-Fil-A, Dell Technologies, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Bank of America, and more. The former Volunteer also has worked with the universities of Alabama, Texas, Oregon, and Clemson, along with the New York Knicks, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, New England Patriots, and countless more teams and programs along the way.
After meeting with the Tennessee football team this week, Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel posted a picture of him and Johnson.
While reading Johnson’s words are one thing, there’s a reason why he’s a world-class motivational speaker first and foremost. The video below is a highly encouraged watch.
Appreciate the game. Tomorrow is not [email protected] #VFL | #GBO 🍊 pic.twitter.com/luidvTzUfg
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) February 2, 2023
Awesome message tonight with our team from #VFL @inkyjohnson
So glad to have you back on Rocky Top!#GBO 🍊 pic.twitter.com/TemkqDkgYL
— Josh Heupel (@coachjoshheupel) February 2, 2023