Keyshawn Johnson (born July 22, 1972 in Los Angeles, California) is an American football wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers.
Johnson is the youngest of his mother's six children. While her other children lived with relatives, she and Keyshawn struggled to survive, even living in her car at one point. At a young age, Keyshawn was in trouble with the law, spent time at a reformatory camp, and was the victim in a drive-by shooting.
However, by 1990, he had turned his life around, partly due to University of Southern California (USC) football head coach John Robinson. Robinson became a father-figure to Keyshawn, allowing him to spend time with the team, fetch balls and helmets, and carry things for the players. Johnson lettered in football and track at Dorsey High School, and was first-team all-state in football. After earning JC All-America honors at West Los Angeles College, USC offered him an athletic scholarship.
Playing for Robinson, Johnson led the USC Trojans to wins in the Cotton Bowl and the Rose Bowl.
He spent the first few years of his professional career with the New York Jets, who drafted him with the top overall selection in the 1996 NFL Draft. He was the first wide receiver selected with the number one overall pick since Irving Fryar was chosen by New England in 1984. While in New York, he played three seasons (1997-1999) under Bill Parcells. Johnson was traded on April 12, 2000 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two first round draft choices (12th - Shaun Ellis - and 27th - Anthony Becht - overall) in the 2000 NFL Draft. Johnson signed a 6-year, $52 million contract extension with the Buccaneers that made him the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL.
Ten games into the 2003 season, however, Johnson's tenuous relationship with Tampa's head coach, Jon Gruden helped seal his fate in Florida. The team traded him on March 19, 2004 to the Dallas Cowboys for Joey Galloway. Reunited with his former coach, Johnson lived up to his advanced billing for the Cowboys in 2004, leading the team in receiving yards and tying for the lead in touchdown catches while taking over a leadership role in the locker room and on the field. Johnson's combination of size and speed gives him the ability to take over a game at receiver, but he has also established himself as an exceptional asset and one of the league's most complete players in the running game by making key blocks on a cornerback or safety down field or on a defensive lineman at the point of attack.
His all-around game has earned him selection to the Pro Bowl three times - 1998 and 1999 with the N.Y. Jets and 2001 with Tampa Bay. Johnson currently stands 23rd in NFL history in career receptions with 673 and is 39 catches shy of the NFL's all-time Top 20 (Rod Smith - 712). With 839 yards receiving in 2005, Johnson will become just the 23rd player in NFL history to reach the 9,000-yard mark for his career. In reaching the 600 career receptions plateau in 118 games, he tied Herman Moore for the second fewest number of games needed in NFL history to reach that mark, and he became one of only three players in league annals (Moore and Marvin Harrison) to reach 600 receptions in less than 120 games. He caught 512 passes in his first 100 games to rank as the fourth most receptions in a player's first 100 games. The other three are: Harrison (591), Sterling Sharpe (524) and Lionel Taylor (516).
To achieve this production, he has averaged 74.8 catches-per-season over his first nine seasons, and he has caught a pass in every one of his 135 games, the second longest streak among active receivers (Harrison, 139) and the third longest streak to begin a career among all players (Marshall Faulk, 158 and Harrison, 139). For his career, Johnson has recorded 60-or-more catches in eight of his nine NFL seasons. In 2001 and 2002, he became the first player in Buccaneers history to record consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons when he registered 1,266 yards in 2001 and 1,088 in 2002.
A durable player, Johnson has missed only three of a possible 145 career games - including playoffs - due to injury.
Keyshawn Johnson was released by the Dallas Cowboys on March 14, 2006.
(Pro career information credited to the Dallas Cowboys website.)
On March 23, 2006, Johnson signed a four year, $14 million dollar deal with the Carolina Panthers. Of this, he is guaranteed a $5 million dollar signing bonus. He is expected to play opposite Steve Smith as the number two reciever.
The situation with Tampa Bay got so notorious that Johnson's first name became a verb in sports talk radio. "Keyshawning" a player came to mean deactivating him while keeping him under contract. For example, this neologism was directed at Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens after he repeatedly spoke out against the team and quarterback Donovan McNabb. The Eagles management suspended him for four games and told him he would be deactivated for the remainder of the season when his suspension ended. (Owens was released by the Eagles in March of 2006, and has since signed with the Cowboys.) This practice came to an end in 2006, when the approved collective bargaining agreement prohibited teams from "Keyshawning" players.
On October 3, 2004 Johnson caused a considerable stir by characterizing a former Tampa Bay teammate, Ronde Barber, as an "Uncle Tom" while in the FOX broadcast booth during the Cowboys' bye week. (It is a common practice for NFL players to make guest appearances on FOX's or CBS's pre-game show during the one week each regular season when the player's team does not play).
In 2005, Johnson had a short argument with quarterback Drew Bledsoe, whom Johnson believed had led him too far with a pass that resulted in a big hit, a Johnson fumble, and a touchdown for the other team. While the media made a big deal of this, both Johnson and Bledsoe insisted it was no big deal. This was clear later in the season when after a Dallas win, Johnson sought out and jumped on Bledsoe, both grinning like schoolchildren.
Critics, like former Dallas Cowboy wide receiver and ESPN sportscaster Michael Irvin, are quick to note that Keyshawn's lack of elite speed keeps him from being a #1 receiver in the NFL. After Irvin said that Dallas has no #1 receiver, Johnson went on the offensive during a one-on-one interview with Irvin, reiterating that he was the No. 1 receiver in Dallas now. Johnson has since faced further criticism for his somewhat brazen selfishness in not even mentioning the team's other receivers, such as Terry Glenn whose 713 yards makes up nearly one third of the Cowboy's passing attack compared to Keyshawn's 486 yards (only 54 yards per game).
Johnson authored the controversial book, Just Give Me the Damn Ball!, which he wrote after his rookie season with the Jets,
Johnson married Shikiri Hightower, whom he met at USC, on February 14, 1998. He divorced her in 2002. They have 2 children. Keyshawn is the cousin of Cincinnati Bengals wide-out Chad Johnson.
OTHER USC FOOTBALL NEWS
USC FOOTBALL NEWS