Who is Keyshawn Johnson?
Keyshawn Johnson is a former American football player (wide receiver) who currently works as an analyst on ESPN’s weekday football studio show, NFL Live, and co-hosts ESPN Radio’s weekday morning show, Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin. Before this, he hosted a daily morning show on ESPNLA 710 AM and served as an analyst on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown shows. As a player, he played eleven NFL seasons (1996-2006) for four different teams: The New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers. During this period, he earned three Pro Bowl selection and helped Tampa Bay Buccaneers win Super Bowl XXXVII (2002). Johnson came from a poor background and faced a lot of adversities during his childhood. He began playing football in high school and developed a passion for it. He played for West Los Angeles College and later for the University of Southern California Trojans football team and won the ‘Most Valuable Player’ in Cotton Bowl Classic as well as ‘Player of the Game’ in Rose Bowl. His success in college led him to become the first overall pick in the 1996 NFL draft by the New York Jets.
Childhood & Early Life
Joseph Keyshawn Johnson was born on 22 July 1972, in Los Angeles, California. The youngest amongst his six siblings, he was raised by his single mother, Vivian Jessie Johnson.
The family was poor and by the time he was 11, they were homeless. To help earn money, he sold drugs and stolen goods and was therefore arrested and sent to California youth facility where he spent nine months.
For his education, he first went to Palisades High School and then joined Susan Miller Dorsey High School in Los Angeles. He had started playing football and developed a passion for it.
He scored poorly in SAT and therefore had to start his college football career in junior college.
After lasting just eight games in first year at West Los Angeles College, he sat out for a year. He eventually returned in 1992 and, owing to his good performance, was selected in USC Trojans football team.
His performance as a Trojan won him the ‘Most Valuable Player’ after the 1995 Cotton Bowl Classic and ‘Player of the Game’ after the 1996 Rose Bowl.
In 1997, he completed his BA in social sciences and history from USC (University of Southern California).
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After achieving success at the USC, Keyshawn Johnson became the top overall pick by the New York Jets in the 1996 NFL Draft. He was drafted as a wide receiver and played three successful seasons with the Jets (1996-1999).
In 1997, he authored his autobiography – Just Give Me the Damn Ball! The Fast Times and Hard Knocks of ... – along with ESPN’s Shelley Smith. The book elaborated on his experiences as a rookie.
The same year, he appeared as an NFL rookie in one of ESPN’s famous commercials, This Is SportsCenter, together with Kobe Bryant, Stuart Scott and Kenny Mayne.
In the 2000 NFL draft, he was picked by Tampa Bay Buccaneers who signed him for eight years. He was paid $56 million and became the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL.
He helped the Buccaneers win the Superbowl XXXVII in 2002; however, his bitter relationship with head coach Jon Gruden resulted in him playing only 10 games in 2003 season.
In 2004 and 2005, he played for the Dallas Cowboys and in 2006 signed a four-year deal with the Carolina Panthers. However, he was released after just one season with the Panthers.
In 2005, he co-established a company – First Picks Management – to focus on food service, and hospitality industries.
In 2007, Keyshawn Johnson retired from the NFL and began his broadcasting career with ESPN as an analyst. Earlier the same year, while still playing for Carolina Panthers, he had made his first appearance on ESPN as a guest analyst.
His playing career included 167 games with 814 receptions, 10571 yards and 64 receiving touchdowns. He was selected to the Pro Bowl thrice – twice with New York Jets (1998, 1999) and once with Tampa Bay (2001). He was awarded Pro Bowl MVP in 1999.
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Between 2007 and 2015, he was a member of ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown shows. For the two shows, he created a segment C'mon Man! wherein each panellist picked up a bad play – from the previous NFL week – that deserved the catchphrase. During the period, he also covered Super Bowl week for ESPN.
He also served as an analyst in the pre-game shows on Sundays and Monday nights and Who's Now competition. He sometimes filled in for Jim Rome during his absence from his show Jim Rome Is Burning (2008-2009) too. He did some radio work as well.
In 2008, Keyshawn Johnson appeared in A&E Network’s weekend TV Series called Keyshawn Johnson: Tackling Design wherein he attempted to build a new career as an interior designer by helping his clients redesign their living spaces.
In 2013, he participated in the 17th season of the celebrity dance competition reality show - Dancing with the Stars. He teamed up with professional dancer�Sharna Burgess; however, the duo was the first one to be eliminated from the show.
In 2015, he became an executive producer for an episode – Trojan War– of ESPN’s television series documentary 30 for 30. The documentary followed the rise and fall of USC Trojans football during Pete Carroll's coaching tenure.
In 2016, he began hosting a daily morning show on ESPNLA 710 AM – ESPN’s owned radio station in Los Angeles – and continued with it till 2020. He had previously hosted another radio show, Taking it to the House, on Sirius Satellite Radio (around 2004).
From mid-August 2020, Johnson began co-presenting ESPN Radio’s new weekday morning show, Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin (KJZ) with basketball analyst,Jay Williams, and former NBA player and SportsCenter host, Zubin Mehenti.
In August 2020, he became an analyst on ESPN network’s revamped weekday football studio program NFL Live.
He is a regular face on ESPN’s other television and radio shows including Get Up and First Take.
He has also worked as a writer and producer for a few episodes of Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin NFL Live and First Take.
Awards & Achievements
In 1995, Keyshawn Johnson was awarded the Pop Warner Trophy and Рас-10 Offеnѕіvе Plауеr оf thе Yеаr. The same year, he also earned the All-Аmеrісаn honours.
He was awarded Pro Bowl Most Valuable Player in 1999.
In 2007, he was inducted into Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame and the following year Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.
In 2012, he was inducted into USC Hall of Fame.
Family & Personal Life
From 1998 to 2002, Keyshawn Johnson was married to Shikiri Hightower. Together, they have two children.
In 2014, he married Jennifer Conrad. The couple have two young children together and are now separated, though not divorced.
His children include Keyshawn Jr, Maia, London, and Vance.