ESPN’s Keyshawn Johnson
September 4, 2007 2:37 PM
After a few days at ESPN in Bristol, Conn., a visit to the U.S. Open on Friday and a NASCAR race over the weekend, Pressbox has plenty to talk about over the next week as sports media outlets rev up for their busiest time of the year.
First up, with football season just days away, all four of the networks showcasing the NFL this week are entrenching themselves with the final touches on their broadcasts. As Chris Berman said to reporters last week, “If all else fails, we talk about football.”
Among changes to expect in one area this season is a potential segment involving Chris Berman, Bill Parcells and his former player Keyshawn Johnson. In addition, the ESPN crew said they had upgraded the drawing tools for newcomer Ron Jaworski to map out plays during the broadcasts.
The company will begin rolling out new promos this week for “Sunday Night Countdown” entitled “Lucky for Us, They Chose Football,” in which the cast will host mock studio segments where they dish on pottery, motorcycle maintenance and landscaping.
Also had a chance to talk with Pressbox interviewee Ron Jaworski about the Arena Football League, where he is an owner. Jaws said that in two weeks, owners will be gathering to discuss the future of the Nashville franchise as well as the possibility of creating a new team in south Florida.
This week Pressbox had a quick sit-down with Keyshawn, who retired from the NFL earlier in the year and now joins the media that once dubbed him “Meshawn” for being outspoken about players and coaches as well as a result of his book “Just Give Me the Damn Ball.” He was the top overall pick by the New York Jets in the 1996 NFL Draft and played for four teams during his career, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2000-03), the Dallas Cowboys (2004-05) and the Carolina Panthers (2006). He became one of the most productive receivers of his era, earning 814 receptions for 10,571 yards and 64 touchdowns in 167 games.
You had one workout as an analyst for the NFL draft. How are you getting ready for your first season as part of the media?
Keyshawn: I will just follow the veterans, and watch what they are doing and understand how they got to be good at what they’re doing.
The reason why the draft was so successful for me was that I followed the script. I didn’t deviate from the plan that they gave me and the way to make things work. I never got off track. That’s the same way in my career in football was successful was that I never got off the script that was written for me by the coaches. I never ventured off into doing other things. As long as I do that, that’s where I think I’ll be successful.
Would you say that you have any mentors in broadcasting?
Keyshawn: I watch them, but I do my own thing.
What exactly do you bring to the table that audiences haven’t seen before?
Keyshawn: Hopefully I’ll bring my personality and my looks, as well as my knowledge of the game from the past 11 years as a professional as well as from college and high school. I know the game. I am opinionated, but that’s not going to hurt anybody. If I say that someone didn’t do a good job, I’m not trying to bury the guy. Some people have sensitive stomachs, but it is what it is.
You have had to face a lot of media scrutiny over the years as a player. How do you go from that side to being part of the media? What makes you want to do that?
Keyshawn: I always understood that they were just doing their job. I never got down on anybody that may have said something about me. I’m not a negative person in terms of holding on to something forever. So a guy says something about me, I let it go. That’s their opinion. But they are still paying me.
How has the draft changed from when you were drafted?
Keyshawn: Clearly it seems like a bigger event now than when it was when I got drafted, which is fun then, but it was fun covering that side of it as well.
How active are you as a USC alumnus?
Keyshawn: I’m still there. You’ll see me on their sidelines, especially now that I’ll have more time.