Chiefs LB James-Michael Johnson sponsors essay contest; CB Sean Smith returns to Miami

Oct 20, 2013; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs linebacker James-Michael Johnson (52) after a game at Arrowhead Stadium. Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 20, 2013; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs linebacker James-Michael Johnson (52) after a game at Arrowhead Stadium. Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For all the wrong making headlines in recent weeks, the majority of NFL players continue to do the right thing under the radar.

Such is the case of Chiefs linebacker James-Michael Johnson, who is giving back to the community by sponsoring “Project JMJ” with his former high school, Rodriguez High School in Fairfield, Calif.

Johnson’s contest involves Rodriguez High School students writing a two-paragraph essay on the importance of establishing and achieving goals.

“I just want to do something for my high school,” Johnson said Friday. “I play in the Bay area twice, so I wanted to do a little ticket giveaway and a contest for some of the high school kids.”

The entries will be judged by Johnson and his fiancée, Aleesia Sims. The couple will announce the winner on Sept. 26 through the Rodriguez High School broadcast.

The winner will then receive three tickets to watch Johnson and the Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium on Oct. 5.

For Johnson, setting goals became important in middle school when his grades suffered after going to a school he didn’t want to attend.

Johnson said his father took a week off work and sat in classes with him to teach him the importance of maintaining good grades if he wanted to play sports.

“Him showing that it was important to him made it important to me,” Johnson said of his father. “That helped motivate me.”

Johnson went on to a successful four-year college career at Nevada where he earned a degree in psychology. He entered the NFL in 2012 as a fourth-round pick (120th overall) of the Cleveland Browns before joining the Chiefs after being claimed off waivers from the Browns on Sept. 1, 2013.

The third-year pro is currently the starting right inside linebacker in place of Derrick Johnson, who is out for the season with an Achilles injury.

“You want to have goals,” Johnson said. “Something you’re shooting at whether it’s school-wise, football-wise, sports-wise or in life. You have to make goals. If you don’t have goals, you’re just walking in the dark. You don’t know where you’re going.”

“Project JMJ” isn’t the first time Johnson has done something for his hometown of Fairfield since he’s been with the Chiefs. He helped replace 300 turkeys that were stolen days before Thanksgiving in 2013.

Visit “Project JMJ” to learn more.


Cornerback Sean Smith returns to Miami for the first time as a Chief since signing a free-agent deal with Kansas City on March 15, 2013.

The Dolphins’ former second-round pick (61st overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft said he maintains roots in Miami, but this weekend trip won’t be about pleasure.

“For me,” Smith said Friday, “it’s going down there to take care of business. It’s going to be fun to go down there and seeing some of the guys I came into the league with and played with. But at the end of the day, it’s definitely a business trip. I want to go down there and help the team get the first win.”

Of course, assisting the Chiefs get the win means locking up with the Miami wide receivers and players he practiced against from 2009-12.

Mike Wallace signed with Miami last year, so Smith didn’t get a chance to be teammates with him.

But Smith is fully aware what he’s facing if he’s assigned to cover the 6-0, 200-pound Wallace, who leads the Dolphins with 12 catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns entering Week 3.

“Speed,” Smith emphatically said. “That’s it. Speed kills. Mike is a guy you got to get your hands on him if you’re going to press him. And if you’re a safety, you better keep a good eye on him.”

Smith’s stance turned from serious to genuine warmth when talking about a former teammate, wide receiver Brain Hartline.

“That’s my guy,” Smith said with a smile. “Hartline is very crafty. He’s a crafty receiver. I think people don’t give him a lot of credit as much as he deserves, but he works hard, he’s very quick outside the break and he has sure hands.”

The Dolphins also have wide receiver Brandon Gibson, and all the Miami offensive weapons have the Chiefs’ attention for Week 3’s business trip.

“They have a great group of guys over there,” Smith said. “We just have to go out there and compete, and see who comes out on top.”

NOTES: Running back Jamaal Charles (ankle) is questionable for Sunday’s game after putting in a limited practice for a second straight day … The Chiefs have ruled out strong safety Eric Berry (ankle) and rookie running back/wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas (hamstring).