Earlier this season, Arizona safety Rashad Johnson played with a finger that later had to be amputated. Likewise, Buffalo Bills receiver Steve Johnson's, no relation, can never have his emotional toughness questioned either. On the day he arrived in Jacksonville, Stevie received a phone call informing him that his mother, Rhonda Lewis had passed in her northern California home at the age of 48. Johnson stayed and played on Sunday.
However, it clearly affected him. Johnson, the Bills team-leader in receving yards, only recorded one catch for four yards. Fortunately, Buffalo escaped with the win.
“I spent a lot of time with coach Marrone and we just sat and talked,” he said. “We talked about everything. It wasn’t about football. I felt good about it. He talked to me like I was his son or something. He made me feel comfortable with my decision whichever way it went, whether it was to fly right back or stay. I felt like we’ve got business here and I’m here already so let’s take care of business and we’ll deal with everything else after the game.”
Marrone relied on his previous experience in a similar situation to comfort Johnson before Sunday's game.
“When I was at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy one of my player’s fathers passed and I talked to his mom prior to the game and she didn’t want me to tell him. So I had to coach him through that game and then I had to tell him afterwards. It’s a very difficult, difficult thing.”
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) December 16, 2013