Will Johnson is a man of many talents. The 26-year-old is the starting fullback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, as well as a devoted husband, philanthropist and CrossFit athlete. Johnson is a member of CrossFit Charlotte, where he trains with coach and owner Andy Hendel, who was a linebacker with the Miami Dolphins in 1986. Hendel brings his football experience to Johnson’s CrossFit training.
“We did rope climbs, muscle-ups, handstand push-ups, pull-ups—all the body-weight stuff. … You can’t take a barbell on the field,” Hendel says of training Johnson, nicknamed “Sweet Feet” for his agility skills. The work has paid dividends for Johnson’s football career, and he signed with the Steelers in 2012. “Within a month’s time, I was seeing huge results in my body,” Johnson says. “I saw all of my numbers drastically increase, bench press went through the roof, and that’s a lot of the reason why Coach (Mike) Tomlin signed me that day.” Earlier this year, Johnson used his success to help a family in need. When he heard the story of 11-year-old McKenzie Flohr’s fight against leukemia, Johnson didn’t hesitate to help.
“I didn’t grow up in the most fortunate or wealthiest family … so I feel like with this platform I have now, I’m in a position where I can help others and give back where I can,” he says. With the help of a few friends, Johnson raised US$6,000 to help with the Flohr family’s medical expenses. Video by Mike Koslap and Michael Dalton. 5min 59sec
Additional reading: “CrossFitter Signs With Steelers” by Andréa Maria Cecil, published April 27, 2012.