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New York Jets Throwback Thursday: Keyshawn Johnson


[Note by John B] Welcome to ConnorSmo, the newest GGN writer. He will be doing a weekly feature looking back at some prominent moments and figures from Jets history.


Some Jets fans may have preferred a wideout selection in April’s NFL Draft, but that’s an argument for a different day. For now, let’s just face the facts. The Jet’s top three wide receivers are Santonio Holmes, who has been hindered by injuries, Stephen Hill, who has been stopped by his own hands, and Jeremy Kerley, who was the Jet’s most consistent wide receiver from a season ago. After these three studs you start seeing names like Ryan Spadola and Vidal Hazelton—I think I’ve proved my point already. But let me take you back to a time where Jet’s fans had security in one of their wide outs, and never doubted his hands.

Keyshawn Johnson—he could run his mouth, but the man could straight out play. Johnson played two seasons at West Los Angeles College before transferring to The University of Southern California where his greatness would be displayed in front of all of America. In two seasons of work at USC, Johnson racked in 168 receptions for 2, 796 yards and 16 touchdowns en route to back-to-back consensus first-team All-American selections. His next stop—New York.

The Jets drafted Johnson with the top overall selection in the 1996 NFL Draft, and Johnson became the first overall pick since Irving Fryar was chosen in 1984. Johnson would play four seasons with the Jets, and would make the most of them. In his time with the Jets, Johnson posted 4,108 yards and 31 touchdowns on 305 receptions in 62 games of work. Perhaps Johnson’s best game of all time came in the 1998 AFC divisional round playoff against the Jaguars, where he collected nine receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 28 yards and a touchdown, recovered a fumble and had an interception on defense. Now that’s what I call a game. But the Jets ended up falling one game short and losing to the Broncos in the AFC Championship game. Keyshawn would earn himself All-Pro and Pro-Bowl recognition in 1998, but he would never receive those accolades as a Jet again.

Following the 1999 season with the Jets, Johnson was traded to the Buccaneers for two first-round draft picks. Johnson ended up signing a six-year, 52 million dollar contract with Tampa Bay, but it wouldn’t last that long after getting into a feud with then head coach John Gruden. Johnson would play three years in Tampa, and win a Super Bowl in 2002, but would get traded the Cowboys in 2004. He went on to play two-seasons in Dallas and one in Carolina before hanging up the cleats in 2007.

Now, Johnson still influences the game, but in a different way. You can now see Keyshawn running his mouth as he always did on Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown on ESPN. As for his hay-day, No. 19 will go down in the history books as an extremely tough, intelligent, and highly clutch receiver who could take a hit, despite his rants, poor conduct, and occasional racial banter.

Great Moments in NY JET Football 1-10-1999 (via billyorbit)