Keyshawn Johnson

American football player (born 1972)

American football player
NFL draft:1996 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1Career history
  • New York Jets (1996–1999)
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2000–2003)
  • Dallas Cowboys (2004–2005)
  • Carolina Panthers (2006)
Career highlights and awards Career NFL statistics
Receiving yards:10,571
Receiving touchdowns:64
Player stats at PFR

Joseph Keyshawn Johnson (born July 22, 1972) is an American former football wide receiver who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 11 seasons.

He played college football for the USC Trojans, and earned All-American honors twice. He was selected first overall by the New York Jets in the 1996 NFL draft. He also played professionally for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys, and Carolina Panthers. He was one of three wide receivers to be taken first overall in NFL draft history and the most recent. During his tenure with the Buccaneers, Johnson was a member of the team that won Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003.

He retired from football following the 2006 season, and spent seven years as a television broadcaster for the sports channel ESPN. He is one of the co-hosts of the FS1 weekday morning debate show Undisputed with Richard Sherman, Michael Irvin, and Skip Bayless.[1]

Early life

Johnson was born in Los Angeles, California. He attended Palisades High School for his sophomore and junior years and then Susan Miller Dorsey High School, also in Los Angeles, for his senior year. Though a standout prospect at football, Johnson's early life was plagued by gang crime and legal troubles. In eighth grade, he spent nine months in a California youth facility after being arrested for possession of marijuana, cocaine, and a concealed handgun.[2] His low SAT scores forced him to start his college football career in community college.

College career

In Johnson's first year at West Los Angeles College, he lasted just 8 games. Eventually he just stopped showing up for practice. "For years, I was the good kid, but I was curious and it eventually got the best of me," he later wrote. "I started hanging out with the wrong crowd and got myself into trouble."[2] After sitting out the following year to get his affairs in order, Johnson returned to football in 1992, and performed well enough to earn himself a transfer to University of Southern California, where he played for coach John Robinson's USC Trojans football team in 1994 and 1995. In 1994, he finished with 66 catches for 1,362 yards and 9 touchdowns. In 1995, he finished with 102 catches for 1,434 yards and 7 touchdowns.

As a Trojan, he was twice recognized as an All-American selection. After the 1994 college season, Johnson helped lead the Trojans to a win in the 1995 Cotton Bowl Classic, after which he was named the game's Most Valuable Player. The Trojans then played in the 1996 Rose Bowl, during which Johnson caught 12 passes for a Rose Bowl record 216 yards and one touchdown in the Trojans' 41–32 victory over the Northwestern Wildcats. He was named the Player of the Game. He was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame on December 31, 2008.

While in college, Johnson appeared on the TV show Coach, as a player eligible for draft in the upcoming season. He flatly refused to be recruited to the fictional "Orlando Breakers" team for coach Hayden Fox, stating he would go to Canada to play first. Johnson graduated from USC with a B.A. in social sciences and history in 1997.[3]

College statistics

USC Trojans
Season GP Receiving
Rec Yds TD
1994 11 66 1,362 9
1995 12 102 1,434 7
Totals 31 168 2,796 16

Professional career

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 20-yard shuttle Vertical jump
6 ft 3+14 in
(1.91 m)
220 lb
(100 kg)
33+12 in
(0.85 m)
10+78 in
(0.28 m)
4.25 s 31.5 in
(0.80 m)
All values from NFL Combine[4]

New York Jets

The New York Jets drafted Johnson with the first overall pick in the 1996 NFL draft.[5] He was the third wide receiver selected with the number one overall pick since Irving Fryar was chosen by the New England Patriots in 1984. While in New York, he played three seasons (1997–1999) under Bill Parcells, who in two seasons would turnaround the Jets from 1–15 in 1996, Johnson's rookie year to 9–7 in 1997, and 12–4 in 1998 and the franchise's first ever AFC East Division title.

One of his best performances was in a 34–24 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in an AFC divisional playoff game after the 1998 season. In that game, Johnson caught nine passes for 121 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 28 yards and a touchdown, recovered a fumble, and intercepted a pass on defense. The Jets however, fell one game short of the Super Bowl after losing the AFC Championship Game the next week to the Denver Broncos 23–10. Johnson wrote an autobiography with ESPN's Shelley Smith, Just Give Me the Damn Ball. The book covered his rookie year experiences.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Johnson was traded on April 12, 2000 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two first round draft choices (13th – John Abraham – and 27th – Anthony Becht – overall) in the 2000 NFL draft.[6] Soon after Johnson arrived in Tampa Bay, they signed him to an 8-year, $56 million contract extension with the Buccaneers that made him the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL.[7]

At that time he was joining a team that had fallen one game short of the Super Bowl the previous season. In 2002 Johnson went on to win a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers after the arrival of new head coach Jon Gruden, who succeeded Tony Dungy. Johnson had 76 catches for 1,088 yards and five touchdowns; in the playoffs, he had eight catches for 125 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles, then had six grabs for 69 yards in the Super Bowl. However, his bitter relationship with Gruden (illustrated by a video clip of him yelling at Gruden on the sidelines) led to his de-activation for the final 7 games of the 2003 season. The following offseason, he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys, where he was reunited with Bill Parcells, his coach while he was with the New York Jets.

Dallas Cowboys

On March 19, 2004, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded him to the Dallas Cowboys for Joey Galloway, who the Cowboys had also traded two first round picks to acquire. Reunited with his former coach Bill Parcells, Johnson lived up to his advance 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. On March 16, 2006, the Cowboys released Johnson to make room for recently acquired receiver Terrell Owens.

Carolina Panthers

On March 23, 2006, Johnson signed a four-year, $14-million-dollar deal with the Carolina Panthers. Of this, he was guaranteed a $5 million signing bonus. He was expected to play opposite Steve Smith as the number two receiver.

During the Carolina Panthers' Monday Night Football game against the Buccaneers on November 13, 2006, Johnson became the first player in NFL history to score a touchdown on Monday Night Football with four teams (Jets, Buccaneers, Cowboys and Panthers). Johnson was released from the Panthers on May 1, 2007, after just one season with the team. He posted 70 receptions for 815 yards and four touchdowns in Carolina.


On May 23, 2007, Johnson announced he was retiring from the NFL, reportedly turning down offers by several teams, including the Tennessee Titans. Titans' Head Coach Jeff Fisher, who became friends with Johnson while he played at USC, said he thought Johnson's numbers and production spoke for themselves: "He still played at a high-level last year. He takes very good care of himself," Fisher said. "He hasn't had any injuries per season. Anytime you get a chance to bring an experienced veteran in to add to your roster then it's a good thing." On the same day, Johnson announced he would be working as an analyst for ESPN.[8]

On February 5, 2008, CBS4 Miami reported that Bill Parcells reached out to Johnson. Parcells reportedly told him if he was to come out of retirement there would be a spot on the Miami Dolphins roster for him.[9]

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 finished his career with 814 receptions, tying him at 17th all-time with Henry Ellard for career NFL receptions. His 10,571 yards receiving is the 24th highest total in NFL history. In reaching the 600 career receptions plateau in 118 games, he tied Herman Moore for the second fewest games needed in NFL history to reach that mark, and he became one of only three players in league history (Moore and Marvin Harrison) to reach 600 receptions in fewer 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: Marvin 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 caught a pass in every one of his 135 games played over this span. This accomplishment was 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) at that time. For his career, Johnson recorded 60 or more catches in ten of his eleven 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 1,098 in 2002. Johnson missed only three of a possible 145 career games – including playoffs – due to injury.

NFL career statistics

Won the Super Bowl
Bold Career high

Regular season

Year Team GP Receiving Fumbles
Rec Yds Avg Lng TD FD Fum Lost
1996 NYJ 14 63 844 13.4 50 8 42 0 0
1997 NYJ 16 70 963 13.8 39 5 50 0 0
1998 NYJ 16 83 1,131 13.6 41 10 60 0 0
1999 NYJ 16 89 1,170 13.1 65 8 57 0 0
2000 TB 16 71 874 12.3 38 8 49 2 2
2001 TB 15 106 1,266 11.9 47 1 67 2 1
2002 TB 16 76 1,088 14.3 76 5 53 0 0
2003 TB 10 45 600 13.3 39 3 33 0 0
2004 DAL 16 70 981 14.0 39 6 53 1 1
2005 DAL 16 71 839 11.8 34 6 46 3 3
2006 CAR 16 70 815 11.6 40 4 42 1 1
Career[10] 167 814 10,571 13.0 76 64 552 9 8

Analyst on ESPN

Johnson was part of the 2007 NFL draft broadcasting team with Chris Berman, Mel Kiper Jr. and Chris Mortensen that aired on ESPN. In 2007, he became an ESPN analyst for Sunday NFL Countdown, and Monday Night Countdown.[11] Within the confines of Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown, Johnson invented a segment called C'mon Man!, which allows each panel member to pick a moment in the last NFL week "revolving around either the play on the field or unprofessional behavior off it" that one might consider, on some level, either inexcusable or downright laughable.[12] Each member verbalizes what their gripe may be, while highlights of the moment that they are illustrating run around it, and then ends with the panel member stating with disdain, "C'mon man!" He has also been an analyst on several ESPN telecasts, including pre-game shows on Sundays and Monday nights, and some radio work as well.

He was also an analyst on the ESPN Who's Now competition. He occasionally hosted Jim Rome Is Burning while Jim Rome was unavailable. On January 23, 2011, Johnson was not on Sunday NFL Countdown for Championship weekend because his mother unexpectedly died.[13] After being briefly let go by ESPN in 2016, he was brought back to appear on SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, and other shows.[14]

On August 17, 2020, Johnson began hosting mornings on "ESPN LA 710" KSPN, replacing "Golic and Wingo". Johnson will be joined by basketball analyst Jay Williams, a former NBA player; and Max Kellerman, with the show being titled "KJM". ESPN says the hosts will discuss the morning's top stories and overnight developments with their own perspective and analysis. Johnson will also regularly appear on "Get Up" and "First Take."[15][16][17]

As of June 30, 2023, Johnson is no longer working with ESPN.[18]

Other ventures

Johnson co-founded First Picks Management in 2005 as a vehicle to pursue his business interests in the food service, hotel, and real estate industries as well as venture capital investing.[citation needed] He recruited Harvard Business School MBAs, Glenn, and Clarence Mah, as well as his public relations and marketing agent, Ingrid Roberts, to co-lead the organization.[19] Johnson and his management team partnered with National Football League and National Basketball Association athletes, including Warrick Dunn, Dennis Northcutt, Terence Newman, and Joe Smith in developing First Picks Management, a corporate website.

In November 2008, Johnson was contracted for a weekend TV Series called Keyshawn Johnson: Tackling Design.[20] The show was on A&E in July 2009 and showcases Johnson's knowledge of interior design to help other people redecorate their homes.[citation needed]

In 2012, Johnson starred in Jägermeister's critically acclaimed A Stronger Bond television and digital campaign created by the award-winning advertising agency Mistress.[21] In 2013, Johnson was announced to be a contestant on the 17th season of Dancing with the Stars. He was paired with professional dancer Sharna Burgess. On the show of September 23 he was the first celebrity voted out.[22]

Personal life

He has four children: Keyshawn Jr, Maia, London, and Vance. Keyshawn Johnson Jr. was a wide receiver at the University of Nebraska.[23] His nephew is former New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas.[24][25][26]

On March 15, 2021, Johnson announced on his Twitter that his oldest daughter Maia had died.[27]


  1. ^ "Keyshawn Johnson will join FS1's 'Undisputed' as Skip Bayless' new co-host, per reports". USA TODAY. Retrieved August 28, 2023.
  2. ^ a b ALEXANDER, RACHEL (December 31, 1995). "USC'S KEYSHAWN JOHNSON GETS BACK - AND GETS NOTICED". Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  3. ^ Alumni News, USC Dornsife Magazine, Spring/Summer 2012; accessed May 17, 2012.
  4. ^ "Keyshawn Johnson, Combine Results, WR - Southern California". Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  5. ^ "1996 NFL Draft Listing". Retrieved March 30, 2023.
  6. ^ Elliott, Josh (April 24, 2000). "Key Figure". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 3, 2009. The Jets made the trade fearing Johnson would stage a bitter training camp holdout over a new contract.
  7. ^ Battista, Judy (April 13, 2000). "Johnson Gets His Raise and a New Team". New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
  8. ^ "Trojan Great Keyshawn Johnson Announces NFL Retirement From Heritage Hall". Associated Press. May 23, 2007. Archived from the original on February 22, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
  9. ^ "Keyshawn Johnson In Aqua And Orange?". February 5, 2008. Archived from the original on April 14, 2009. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
  10. ^ "Keyshawn Johnson Stats". ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  11. ^ Braziller, Zach (January 29, 2016). "ESPN kicks Keyshawn Johnson off NFL pregame show". Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  12. ^ Emery, Mark (January 29, 2016). "ESPN opts not to renew former WR Keyshawn Johnson's contract". New York Daily News. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  13. ^ "Cowboys Corner: Due to the recent death of his mother, former Cowboys receiver Keyshawn Johnson will not be on ESPN NFL Countdown Sunday morning". January 23, 2011. Archived from the original on October 11, 2017. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  14. ^ "Keyshawn Johnson returns to ESPN". ProFootballTalk. September 2, 2016. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  15. ^ "Report: Keyshawn Johnson To Host New ESPN Radio Morning Show". June 26, 2020. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  16. ^ "Overhauled ESPN Radio Lineup Pulls Talent From Sister TV Channels". July 8, 2020. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  17. ^ "Mike Golic To Remain With ESPN; Programmers 'Optimistic' About New Radio Lineup". July 13, 2020. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  18. ^ Hayes, Dade (June 30, 2023). "ESPN Cuts About 20 On-Air Personalities, Including Jeff Van Gundy, Jalen Rose, Max Kellerman And Keyshawn Johnson". Deadline.
  19. ^ "Newest Panera Bread Franchise Group Led by NFL Veteran Keyshawn Johnson to Develop Bakery-Cafes in California". QSR Magazine. January 9, 2006. Archived from the original on October 15, 2007. Retrieved October 20, 2009.
  20. ^ "A&E Greenlights New Original Series "Keyshawn Johnson: Tackling Design"" (Press release). A&E. November 5, 2008. Archived from the original on February 5, 2010. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
  21. ^ "We Turn Heads". Archived from the original on June 15, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  22. ^ "Leah Remini-Valerie Harper-Snooki among new cast". CBS News. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  23. ^ "Keyshawn Johnson Jr. commits to the Nebraska Cornhuskers for 2017". March 23, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  24. ^ Ohio State's Thomas can do great things with the damn ball,, January 10, 2015; accessed January 27, 2017.
  25. ^ Keyshawn Johnson says nephew, Ohio State's Mike Thomas, 'still learning how to play': 7 point breakdown,; accessed January 27, 2017.
  26. ^ Ohio State football: After redshirt year, Michael Thomas ready to make a difference Archived September 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine,, September 19, 2014.
  27. ^ "Former USC All-American Football Star Keyshawn Johnson Announces Death Of Daughter". March 16, 2021.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Keyshawn Johnson.
  • Career statistics and player information from · ESPN · CBS Sports · Yahoo! Sports · · Pro Football Reference
  • Keyshawn Johnson at IMDb
  • v
  • t
  • e
Pac-12 Football Player of the Year winners
Overall (1975–1982)
Offensive (1983–present)
Defensive (1983–present)
Freshman (1999–2008)
Freshman Offensive (2009–present)
Freshman Defensive (2009–present)
  • v
  • t
  • e
  • v
  • t
  • e
Special Teams
  • v
  • t
  • e
  • v
  • t
  • e
New York Jets 1996 NFL draft selections
  • v
  • t
  • e
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl XXXVII champions