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Niceville BRCC Franchise Owner Jarret Johnson Is Named a Finalist for NFL Salute to Service Award

 

In late January, Jarret Johnson was announced as a finalist for the NFL’s Salute to Service Award, which is presented by the United Services Automobile Association. The award comes with a $25,000 donation by the NFL to the award recipient’s military charity (or charities) of choice.


Johnson is one of three finalists for the 11th annual award, joining Chicago Bears tight end Jimmy Graham and Denver Broncos tight end/fullback Andrew Beck. The award recipient will be recognized Feb. 10 at the NFL Honors, shortly before the Super Bowl LVI. 


Photo by Joey Pulone/Baltimore Ravens Photos.

Jarret Johnson may be known to most as a former linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, but his retirement from the NFL led him to a life as co-owner of the Black Rifle Coffee Company franchise in Niceville, Florida. The area Johnson lives in is home to six military installations in a 20-mile radius, creating strong military ties in his community, to say the least. 

 

Johnson runs the BRCC location with his co-owner, a service-disabled Air Force veteran. The coffee shop employs more than 40 veterans, active-duty service members, military spouses, and current and former military dependents. Other than Johnson and one other employee, the franchise is staffed entirely by those with military affiliations.

 

"The people I hang out with are pretty much all military," Johnson said. "I've seen their sacrifice. I've seen them always pushing to serve.

 

"When somebody gets hurt or dies, unfortunately, whether it's in training or combat, the whole community is affected. That gives you a really close connection. It's not just seeing it on the news or hearing stories or reading a book, but actually living it — you see the sacrifice. It makes you appreciate it."

 

Photo by Ashley Toohey/Black Rifle Coffee Company.

 

In addition to his connections with the military community through his neighborhood and BRCC, Johnson is also an annual sponsor of SOF Missions, a nonprofit that offers care to veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries with the goal of ending veteran suicide. Johnson also organized, sponsored, and participated in “The Murph Crossfit Exercise” on Memorial Day 2021. If you’ve never done a “Murph,” the workout consists of a 1-mile run, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, and 300 air squats, followed by another 1-mile run (all while wearing a weighted vest). Johnson’s particular Memorial Day Murph originally started in his backyard but has since grown into a communitywide event with more than 300 participants. The 2021 event raised nearly $15,000 for the EOD Warrior Foundation and the Pipe Hitter Foundation.

 

"Memorial Day in military communities is way different than in other communities. It's a very sad, very somber experience," Johnson said. "We're doing 'The Murph,' and before we ran our second mile, each guy named someone who died that they were in combat with and told their story and what they meant to them. It had a big effect on me."

 

The 2021 Murph Crossfit Exercise also included other former NFL players and teammates — Haloti Ngata, Marshal Yanda, Phillip Rivers, and Nick Hardwick.

 

Photo by Ashley Toohey/Black Rifle Coffee Company.

 

"The first years of retirement are really tough. You're trying to find your way and trying to find out who you are," Johnson said. "When my military buddies transition out of the military, it's just as tough, if not tougher. We have a lot of connections in that aspect."

 

Johnson regularly provides leadership development and positive motivation to the Army's 7th Special Forces Group through various speaking engagements, basic range shooting events, fishing trips, veteran family cookouts, and frequent participation in grueling physical workouts with Special Forces A-teams. In May, he completed the second annual 7th SFG Savage Loop ultramarathon, a 43-mile run around the Choctawhatchee Bay in the Niceville-Destin-Fort Walton Beach area of Florida.

 

All of Johnson’s contributions and commitment to the military community make him more than eligible for the NFL’s Salute to Service Award, but award or not, Johnson is clearly supporting his community for the right reasons.