Mitch Johnson had the date set to finally go watch Phil Loadholt play professional football.
Johnson, the former longtime Fountain-Fort Carson football coach and ex-school board member Tom Downing were planning to head to Nashville, Tenn., to watch Loadholt's Vikings take on the Titans in both teams' season opener.
But with the news of Loadholt retiring from the NFL on Monday, Johnson won't get the opportunity.
"The only regret I have is because of my being consumed with what I was doing, trying to make the Trojans so competitive, I never had a chance to see him play live in the stadium at the NFL level," Johnson said Monday.
Loadholt graduated from Fountain-Fort Carson. He played at Garden City (Kan.) C.C. and then Oklahoma before being drafted by the Vikings in 2009.
Loadholt, 30, announced his retirement Monday following another injury setback in recent weeks, the Star Tribune reported.
Loadholt missed all of 2015 with an Achilles tendon tear. That came on the heels of suffering a torn pectoral muscle 11 games into the 2014 season. In 2012 he was a starter on an offensive line that helped running back Adrian Peterson rush for 2,097 yards.
The 6-foot-8, 345-pound tackle was never far from Fountain, even if only via cell. His parents retired from the military in Fountain and Johnson kept in touch with Loadholt through text messages and phone calls.
In recent years, Loadholt held a football camp at F-FC, bringing several Vikings teammates to the community where he grew up. He also sponsored backpacks and school supplies for Fort Carson district students (kindergarten through second grade) who were less fortunate, Johnson said.
"That was the part I'm so proud of. He never lost his humble beginnings, his root to our community," Johnson said. "He basically was paying it forward. He realized as youngsters we need guidance and direction."
Loadholt was trying to get back in time for Vikings camp, which opens Friday. But another injury forced him to make the decision.
"I felt like I was good to go, and I just had another recent setback, which kind of put it over the hill for me," Loadholt told Vikings.com. "It's kind of like my body is telling me it's time to shut it down. It's part of the game. I'll continue to try to take care of myself and things like that, but right now, my body is telling me it's not ready to go."
Johnson, who attended a game at Oklahoma to watch Loadholt and often tuned into Vikings' games when they were televised, couldn't say enough good things about his former player.
"His humble heart, his ability to give back to the community is what I love most about Phil," Johnson said. "That meant the most to us."