‘It’s an attest to his work ethic:’ Brevard community rallies behind family whose son played in Super Bowl

C.J. Gardner-Johnson is a safety for the Philadelphia Eagles

ROCKLEDGE, Fla. – A community surrounds one Brevard County family after their son competes in the 2023 Super Bowl, bringing hope and inspiration to the surrounding community.

“It’s an attest to his work ethic,” said Brian Johnson, who is the father of Philadelphia Eagles player C.J. Gardner-Johnson, “You know we just supportive parents and guided him in the right way, but he put in all the work to get himself here.”

Johnson and his wife Del Johnson hosted a Super Bowl watch party at their newly built restaurant, King’s Grill in Rockledge, to see Gardner-Johnson play.

“I’m nervous as you can tell, I should be sitting down, but I can’t because my nerves are all over the place,” Del Johnson said.

Del says she can’t help but reflect on the moment when Gardner-Johnson was selected in the NFL draft.

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“He dropped to the fourth round in the draft, and when he did not go on that Thursday or that Friday night, to see how he just melted and my husband stood over him and just cried with him as a mom I was like man...so, he always wanted to be here, he always wanted to make it to the Super Bowl,” Del Johnson said.

As the crowd gathers, friends and loved ones say this moment was always meant to be.

“He could never stray too far,” said Michael Cadore. “Because he always had someone looking out for him. That’s the important thing about a village, being able to come together.”

Cadore once oversaw the youth football league that trained Gardner-Johnson and says the football player has always given back to his community.

Cadore hopes this will show others anything is possible.

“Even if it’s through athletics, or through academics, or as an entrepreneur, continue to dream big, continue to work hard, and remember to give back to your community,” Cadore said.

Gardner-Johnson is now the third former Cocoa High School football player to make it to the Super Bowl – Jamel Dean of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Javian Hawkins of the Los Angeles Rams preceding Gardner-Johnson.

“CJ and Jamel, ironically they ran track together and Jamel was the fastest kid on track at school and CJ broke his record, Johnson said.

The Johnson family says they are proud of their son, no matter the outcome.

Del said, “Win or lose, we will still have a CJ day.”

“You can do anything you set your mind to. Hard work set your mind to it you can do it, he’s proof, he’s proof, ” Brian Johnson said.

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About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.