Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson raised some eyebrows in Western New York on Friday with comments made from Super Bowl XLVII's radio row in New Orleans on The Jim Rome Show. You should listen here if you're interested in breaking down the controversial remarks yourself; we've also got a transcript to follow.
Jim Rome: "What are you doing this off-season? Are you still getting caught up in some local runs? Are you changing up your basketball routine? What are you doing to stay in shape and get ready for the new season?"
Stevie Johnson: "I'm actually - it's funny - I'm actually going to work out."
JR: "No way, really? You mean actually lift weights?"
SJ: "I usually never work out. I just, like, play basketball and run around the block."
JR: "How does that work? You don't hit the weights out of season at all?"
SJ: "The only time I worked out was my rookie year from after (the) combine, just to get in the league. I went down to L.A. and worked with Travelle Gaines, and ever since then, I've only did work with my wife running around the block and playing basketball. That was all I did."
JR: "Why? Do they not insist you have some kind of off-season conditioning program? Throw the weights around?"
SJ: "I probably shouldn't be saying this. Yeah, they give us the booklet and stuff, but I get it and I put it in a drawer. I really don't do it."
JR: "Stevie, you made it through an entire interview without getting into trouble man, until right there, I think."
SJ: "I'm sorry, I'm just being honest, man. This year we've got a new staff, and you know, I've had three seasons with a thousand yards, and that's like without doing, like, real football work. So you know, who knows what happens if I really put in work? Maybe I can eclipse a thousand and go into twelve hundred, you know, maybe thirteen. Maybe I'll be even more energized to finish out games, and we'll get things done, you know. So I'm going to be working hard from next Sunday to April 1st when we go back."
Rome and Johnson did an awful lot of laughing during this particular portion of the interview, with Rome speaking sarcastically at times and Johnson making light of his previous off-season habits while admitting that he plans to do more on that front than he's done before. Seriously: it would behoove you to listen to the interview.
The immediate reaction to the remarks was largely negative; talk radio stations were practically aghast that Johnson would admit that he didn't follow the team's off-season program in years past, and that he'd statistically project where he might end up if he does start working out. Some stated that Johnson was admitting that he's "coasted" over the last two years, and that he doesn't have the ambition to be the best player he can be.
Those people, in our opinion, weren't listening to enough of the exchange. Maybe it bothers you that Johnson hasn't seemingly done all that's been asked of him as a professional athlete; that's fine, but it's also where the criticism logically should stop. Johnson says he'll be working out this off-season - probably because there's a new coaching staff in place - and we'll see if he's right about a potential statistical jump that might result from the extra work. Until then, it's probably overreacting if anyone's opinion changes on the man from one light-hearted interview.