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 Monday, 27 January, 2003, 05:34 GMT
From London to the Super Bowl
Brad Johnson
Johnson is one of the most accurate passers ever

Trotting out at White Hart Lane in the spring of 1995 were two Super Bowl participants whose careers were heading in different directions.

One, William "Refrigerator" Perry had been lured out of retirement by the London Monarchs in an attempt to bring fans back to the World League of American Football.

Perry, listed in the programme as weighing "370lbs-ish", was a long way from his battering best as a cult hero with the 1985 Chicago Bears.

I learnt from it and got some game experience

Brad Johnson
The other man, quarterback Brad Johnson, saw three months in Europe on a salary of 10,000 as his last shot at the big time.

The Monarchs endured a dismal season, winning just four of their 10 matches.

Perry disappeared mid-way through the campaign having failed to impress, but Johnson has never looked back.

On Sunday he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to an upset 48-21 win over the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego.

There remain question-marks about the power of his throwing arm.

But Johnson still ranks as one of the most accurate passers in NFL history, behind legends Steve Young and Joe Montana.

Johnson trains with the Monarchs
Johnson earned just 10,000 for his season in London
Incidentally, he now earns a reported 300 times the cash as well.

Johnson, 34, admits he was a late bloomer - he was even the reserve passer for his college team Florida State.

He had been on the staff of the Minnesota Vikings for three years but had barely played.

In one of those seasons he shared the bench with Rich Gannon, his opposite number for the Raiders.

But a year in Europe gave him the experience he needed to make it at the highest level.

"I was practising well and playing behind Warren Moon but I wasn't getting any game-time," Johnson said this week.

"I needed to make mistakes. I learnt from it and got some game experience because I didn't play much in college."

Johnson did not make many mistakes in 1995, though, leading the World League in completions and coming second in yards gained and touchdowns.

From there, the breaks began to go his way.

An injury to veteran Moon saw him play much of the 1996 season for the Vikings.

But it was after a trade to the Washington Redskins that his career really took off.

An invitation to the all-star Pro Bowl came his way in 1999 after a year in which he threw for 4,005 yards - the second highest in Redskins history.

Johnson faces the press
The Super Bowl spotlight beckons for Johnson
But Johnson was just one of a host of players who had been bought in by a Washington owner determined to have instant success.

And when the Super Bowl favourites failed in 2000 he was on his way again, signing a lucrative five-year contract with Tampa Bay.

Johnson was one of the final pieces in a jigsaw that included wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, fullback Mike Alstott and a defence led by tackle Warren Sapp.

And, after 24 largely unsuccessful seasons, the Bucs have finally come of age.

The Florida side earned their first Super Bowl appearance courtesy of last weekend's 27-10 upset of Philadelphia.

Johnson is in no doubt, though, that his own coming of age occurred on the other side of the Atlantic.

"As far as seeing the world is concerned and developing as a player, I look on it as a positive experience," he said.

"I went to Barcelona, Amsterdam, Scotland, Germany, I lived in London - things I might never have been able to do."

"It was one of the best decisions I ever made."

BBC Sport Online rounds up the latest news from the NFL.

Bucs 48-21 Raiders

How they got there

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