David Johnson, right, is pictured with his son, Eli Johnson, an Ole Miss football player. David is hospitalized in Oxford due to COVID-19.

These are crazy times in sports.

With it all shut down, folks in my field are scrambling for stories.

Unfortunately, an old friend of mine in Oxford has much bigger problems.

David Johnson, a Mississippi Delta guy from Cleveland who now covers Ole Miss sports for, is quite sick. Yep, it’s  COVID-19.

We became close while he was the sports editor in Cleveland with the Bolivar Commercial newspaper. That friendship blossomed as we shared thoughts and ideas on high school sports in the Delta, and it continued to grow as he moved on to Oxford. He’s been a great source for all things Ole Miss, on and off the record, for this sports writer.    

My prayers are with him and his entire family as things took a turn for the worse on Wednesday when he was moved to an Intensive Care Unit as he fights the new coronavirus.

Always known to call it like it is, Johnson has been open through social media about his illness — sharing  his diagnosis through Twitter.

Johnson began to feel bad a week ago. The 48-year-old sports writer got sick enough that the family took him to the hospital Friday, where he was tested for both strep throat and the flu — each returned negative — before medics sent him through a coronavirus test. The family got the results Sunday, and Johnson was immediately admitted to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford. His mother started running a fever Monday and was tested. Her results returned positive Tuesday morning.

His last post was at 10:07 a.m. Wednesday, letting people know that his wife, who has also tested positive, is doing well at home while under quarantine.

Johnson’s daughter, Sydney, posted to his Facebook page Thursday morning telling followers that things took a serious turn for her father.

“My heart is broken,” she wrote. “Last night, my dad was moved to the ICU. He has been intubated and placed on a machine that is breathing for him. His lungs are very weak and need time to heal.”

Johnson is the father of Eli Johnson, an Ole Miss football player who plays on the offensive line for the Rebels.

Eli Johnson is in quarantine, but unlike many in this country, he’s in quarantine with a corona patient, his mother. Bless them both!

The Johnson family isn’t allowed to visit David for fear of infecting others. It’s a dark time for some good people, and I hate it. I reached out to David Thursday afternoon via text but hadn’t heard back by the time the paper went to press.

The coronavirus pandemic is altering every American’s life and has turned the sports world upside down, so next time you are bored to tears with no sports, let’s remember those who are dealing with major issues.

Sports are coming back, but at what point, I wouldn’t even fathom a guess. But for those struggling with this virus, there are no guarantees. But David Johnson is a fighter, and he’ll be back soon roaming the sidelines.   

nContact Bill Burrus at 581-7237 or Follow on Twitter:@Bill_Burrus.

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