Businessman Joe Profit, a former Atlanta Falcons player. He qualified Friday to challenge U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, in Georgia's 4th Congressional District. Profit campaign site/Angel Brooks, AJC

Former Falcons player enters Georgia’s 4th District race

Joe Profit is focusing his Republican campaign on a promise to “protect our healthcare, jobs, veterans’ benefits, natural resources, and restore protections for our most vulnerable,” according to his campaign site.

Profit was the Falcons’ first-round draft pick in 1971. He suffered a knee injury during his first game but went on to spend a few seasons with the team before being traded to the New Orleans Saints. 

Profit then opened several fast food franchises in Atlanta before starting a multimedia firm. His website says he also was appointed to several business advisory positions in the Reagan and first Bush administrations, and his qualifying information with the Secretary of State’s office also lists Profit as a minister. 

“In football, we would always say ‘why wait until the next game or until the next year’— why should you wait for solutions to your problems? Now is the time to fight for progress and prosperity for all,” his website states. 

Profit’s campaign and social media sites included little about his candidacy beyond a bio, and he could not be reached for an interview on Friday. 

He drew headlines late last year after a fundraiser he was planning to host for then-Cobb Chairman-elect Mike Boyce was cancelled amid transparency concerns. The AJC had reported that the primary beneficiary of the gala appeared to be the charity of which Profit is president, the Youth United for Prosperity Foundation. 

"Transparency itself has its own definition," Profit said at the time. "That's all I'm going to say about that."

Profit will face off against Melanie Williams, a property manager, in the Republican primary in May. 

Johnson, meanwhile, is being challenged by Juan Parks, a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps instructor, in the Democratic primary. 

The Lithonia resident has represented the 4th District for 11 years, ever since he beat out Cynthia McKinney for the Democratic nomination. He has cruised to reelection since then with at least 70 percent of the vote. 

Johnson is one of the most liberal members of Georgia’s congressional delegation, sticking with party leaders on issues such as immigration and health care. 

He serves on the House Transportation & Infrastructure and Judiciary committees, where he’s recently focused on issues such as intellectual property, internet transparency rules and pushing back against the GOP tax overhaul. But he’s drawn the most headlines for a high-profile gaffe involving Guam and comments about Israeli settlers in the West Bank

"Constituents know how I fight to protect Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the Affordable Care Act from reckless and relentless attacks by Republicans,” Johnson said in a statement. “When they recall my fighting for middle-income and working people, small businesses, consumers, women's rights and equal pay, I am confident they will return me to represent their interests in Congress." 

The 4th includes much of eastern Atlanta and its suburbs, including portions of DeKalb, Gwinnett and Newton counties, as well as all of Rockdale County. 

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman is a senior reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's enterprise team, where she covers gender, the urban-rural divide and other...