CFL

Lions' Johnson celebrates win, leaves future up in the air

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The Canadian Press
11/28/2011 12:59:48 AM
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VANCOUVER -- The future is still up in the air for Brent Johnson.

The 34-year-old B.C. Lions defensive end was in no mood to talk retirement after the Lions captured the 2011 Grey Cup with a 34-23 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at B.C. Place on Sunday.

"I'm going sit down and drink some champagne and have a few beers -- that's my future," said Johnson as he and the rest of the Lions celebrated on a midfield covered in confetti.

The Kingston, Ont., native captured his second Grey Cup in his 11th season with the Lions, the only CFL team for which he has played. He made good on a second chance to win the CFL championship at home after the Lions failed to qualify for the CFL championship game in 2005, losing to the Edmonton Eskimos in the Western Final.

In the week leading up to Grey Cup, Johnson called that missed opportunity one of the biggest regrets of his career and vowed to put a "band-aid" on the wound. Johnson also triumphed after his career was in question last season. The former dominant defender was relegated to a backup role but earned his fifth West Division all-star selection in 2010.

The reduced role continued this season, but Johnson soldiered on as the Lions' rebuilt defensive line went through growing pains. He was rewarded for his hard work Sunday, and wanted to savour every minute of the celebration.

"This is what we play for," said Johnson, who was credited with one tackle. "This is what we played for this entire year. I was just trying to enjoy it and have a good season."

Johnson helped the Lions limit the Bombers to 286 yards in net offence. Against the run, where the defensive line is needed the most, the Lions held Winnipeg to just 41 yards.

But the retirement question still looms for Johnson. He missed the first game of his career this season, against Edmonton on Oct. 29, to be with his wife while she was in the process of delivering the couple's first child.

Lions general manager and coach Wally Buono has described Johnson as "a good soldier" who helped the club get through a difficult transition started a couple of seasons ago. But Buono has made it clear he plans to fill the position with a young player soon.

"I'll think about it in a few days," said Johnson as he return to the on-field celebration.

Johnson won his first Grey Cup with B.C. in 2006.

Brent Johnson (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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