The rundown: Why Saints TE Juwan Johnson is always the last one on the bus

The newest member of the Saints equipment team has a weekend job catching passes.

He's hard to miss in the locker room after games, his 6-foot-4 frame trying to slink down to grab discarded balls of tape haphazardly tossed on the floor between chairs and travel bags while avoiding getting stomped on by the scurrying feet of reporters who race to catch players before they exit out a door toward the idling busses.

Most of the players have similar routines after games. Shower, get dressed, do interviews, hit the road. There are only so many variations of this routine that can occur after games, but Juwan Johnson has found a way to be different.

While his teammates hurry to leave, the Saints tight end throws on a pair of blue latex gloves and helps the equipment staff pick up tape, gather wet towels and do whatever else needs to be done to return the locker room to the state the team found it when it got there.

"You just want to be respectful," Johnson said. "I feel like we came in with a nice place. I was always taught to leave it how you came. So, that's just my way of serving. I'm a firm believer, not just my faith, just being a person that serves. It's just gratitude to them."

There are usually 10 members of the equipment staff in the locker room picking up a surprising amount of trash that accumulates after games. Think about all the tape you see on guys during games. There are 100 ankles taped up, arms, fingers and more. A lot of that stuff ends up on the locker room floor, and then it gets stuck to different things, and these are the people make sure it all ends up in trash bags. The task is immense.

During the 2020 season, as COVID-19 ripped through the population, the equipment staff was only allowed four people in the locker room. Everything took longer. But the staff got one more set of hands after the Week 1 game, when Johnson decided to start helping out.

"I don't know if he was just trying to help us out when we were shorthanded, but that's just always what he's done," Saints equipment manager John Baumgartner said. "It really means a lot to us, because you've been in the rooms after the game. It looks like a bomb has gone off. We've never asked him to do it. He's always just done it."

Johnson's participation often catches people by surprise. Clubhouse attendants at other stadiums have seen it happening, walk over to Baumgartner, and tell him they've never seen another player help out like Johnson does.

At some point along the way, Baumgartner and his staff made it official by giving Johnson an equipment staff T-shirt.

"We don't just give those out," Baumgartner said. "You have to earn them. Can't give them away. He's the only guy we've given a shirt to."

Johnson has, indeed, earned it.

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