TORONTO – Glen Johnson, the Canadian Football League’s Senior Vice President, Football, announced Thursday he is retiring from the league after almost three decades as an on-field official and a football operations leader.
“It just feels like the right time,” Johnson said. “Our game is in a great place, with scoring up, penalties down and a strong team of dedicated officials in place. And while I will always be a huge CFL fan, I’d like to see what it’s like to spend summer and fall weekends focused on family and friends instead of football alone.”
Johnson has worked for the CFL for 28 seasons; 24 as an on-field official, one as Technical Director for Officiating, two as the Vice-President, Officiating, and most recently as the Senior Vice-President, Football for two years. As an on-field official, Johnson worked 416 games, earning eleven Grey Cup assignments. Johnson’s Canadian football roots run deep: his father Gord worked for the League for 25 years, 16 as an on-field official who earned four Grey Cup assignments. The Johnsons remain the only father-and-son duo to have both officiated a Grey Cup game.
“Glen has made a huge contribution to our league, on and off the field,” said Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner of the Canadian Football League. “He has been an active official, a dedicated administrator, a strong advocate and, through his work with our coaches and rules committee, an architect of our game.”
Johnson joined the league office following the 2013 CFL season, upon retiring from both on-field officiating and a successful career in the technology sector. Since then, he has been responsible for spearheading innovations including the use of video replay to review judgment calls such as pass interference, the addition of a video official to the Command Centre to improve real-time decisions and the use of live game video on tablets used on the sidelines by coaches and players.
Playing a leading role on the league’s Rules Committee, Johnson was instrumental in working with coaches, general managers and officials to make changes to open up the passing game, increase scoring and encourage big play kick returns. Since 2014, regular season scoring is up 19 per cent, and penalties are down 13 per cent. This year, scoring in the four playoff games averaged 57 points, up 7 per cent from the regular season. It was one of the five highest scoring playoff runs in the past 25 years. The same playoff games averaged just nine penalties per game.
Working alongside Kevin McDonald, the Vice-President, Football Operations and Player Safety, Johnson also oversaw the addition of an injury spotter to the Command Centre, and several changes to the league’s rules and discipline standards designed to improve player health and safety.
His tenure in the league office was highlighted by the introduction of the first ever officiating exchange program between the CFL and the NFL and a new national Flag Football program for youth in partnership with NFL Canada.
“There are so many wonderful people to thank,” Johnson said. “I’m indebted to all of the Commissioners who gave me an opportunity to serve this league, and the crew mates and colleagues who I count among my dearest friends. I particularly want to acknowledge the CFL’s on-field officials and officiating support team, who are second to none in the world of sports. The support and understanding of my wife Karen Ann and sons Erik and Rocky have made it possible for me to pursue my passion for Canadian football. Finally, I thank CFL fans whose love of our game pays the bills and fuels all that we do here.”
Johnson has agreed to continue to consult to the League on an as-needed basis.