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Jimmy Johnson shows his Pro Football Hall of Fame T-shirt as a member of the 2020 class after Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker surprised Johnson on live TV by informing him he would be a member of the special Centennial Slate to be enshrined this year.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The wonderful week of Jimmy Johnson began with his sleep-deprived arrival to the Fox studio in Los Angeles at 4 a.m. Sunday for his NFL show duties. He didn’t know then it would be his day of football days. He feared the worst, in fact.

“Hear anything?” Fox game analyst and Johnson’s quarterback in Dallas, Troy Aikman, texted from Green Bay, where he would work the Green Bay-Seattle playoff game.

“Nothing,” Johnson answered.

His fellow Fox analysts in Los Angeles didn’t even ask. Johnson had slept just two or three hours a night since last Wednesday’s Pro Football Hall-of-Fame vote was taken and the results kept private.

“Forget about it,” Terry Bradshaw said when Johnson mentioned he might be bypassed. “Put it in the back of your mind and get ready for the show.”

Neither knew the coming made-for-TV magic of that show — that Hall presenter David Baker would make a surprise appearance, that Johnson would hear he was going to Canton, that he’d cry in full joy before 33 million viewers and become so emotional he’d gasp at one point, “I can’t talk.”

That started a stretch of craziness where Johnson celebrated at an Italian restaurant with the Fox team, answered more than 300 texts on his flight back to South Florida and, while jogging along U.S. 1 near his Tavernier home, was surprised by the joy his election caused.

A pool guy came out to congratulate him. Strangers out exercising cheered him. Cars honked as they passed. Five drivers stopped on the side of the highway to shake Jimmy’s hand.

“It’s been non-stop crazy,” Johnson said. “The calls, the texts, the emails, it’s been … (pause) … I’ve got another call coming in now.”

All deserved. All part of the moment. But Johnson had no idea before Sunday’s show.

No one on the Fox set did, in fact, except producer Bill Richards. Johnson saw CBS analyst and former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher get surprised with news of his election by Hall presenter David Baker during Saturday’s pre-game show in New York.

Johnson thought maybe, just maybe, Baker would show up on the Fox pre-game show Sunday. When that didn’t happen, he figured he’d wait until the results would be announced Wednesday. He did his work. He prepared a segment on Seattle’s defense for the halftime show — how its secondary was confused with coverage during a Green Bay touchdown — when Baker suddenly appeared on the set.

Baker, at 6-foot-9 and 400 pounds, had staged a secret game of his own. He flew across the country to Los Angeles after surprising Cowher. He declined to have a requested fan picture taken at his hotel. He entered the Fox studio through the loading dock. Then he told Johnson he had been elected in the Hall.

Johnson said a few words, but had to stop.

“I couldn’t talk,” he said. “My throat failed me. It clammed up. The whole time he was talking to me, I wasn’t breathing I was so excited. Michael (Strahan) got scared. Howie (Long) was pumping his finger, for me to get my inhaler (for asthma).”

Richards, the producer, was bawling. Aikman wiped away tears watching from Green Bay. Johnson collected himself on TV to say, “This is so special to me, because when you put in the work we put in, it’s nice to know people appreciate it.”

That’s it, right? Confirmation of greatness gives Hall of Fames their meaning.

Johnson inherited a Dallas franchise of three straight losing seasons, including a 3-13 year before he arrived, and made it a Super Bowl dynasty. He re-defined how speed was used and how to rebuild through trades and draft picks.

And his Dolphins years? Three playoff trips in four years. Two playoff wins. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who was part of the Hall’s panel of voters, evidently spoke up during the debate over Johnson when the Miami years were raised.

Said Johnson: “I heard he said, ‘You people don’t realize how good that team was defensively. They led the league one year in defense. It was always a battle to play them.’ That took away some of the perception of the Miami days.”

His Dolphins linebacker, Zach Thomas, was one of the hundreds who called to congratulate Johnson. Thomas is a Hall finalist, and his fate will be revealed on Feb. 1.

“Let’s get you in,” Johnson said. “We’ll go in together.”

What a night that would be in Canton. Johnson, though, is still riding the emotion of that live TV moment — as is everyone on the Fox team. While texting wardrobe director Victoria Trillin, he requested a few suits for the upcoming Super Bowl show.

“Mr. Hall of Famer, you’ve got it,” she texted back. “I’ve worked for Fox for 23 years. Sunday was the greatest moment of my entire time. Everybody on the set is so excited and happy for you.”

Johnson, sitting in Tavernier and still riding high, said as another phone call comes, “When something like this happens, you realize how many people were pulling for you.”