Saturday, June 2, 2007

Ding Dong, Keyshawn is (alive and well) but outta here!

It will be one of my themes that I love older players who still "put it out there" and "give 110 percent". Nothing leaves my cheese out in the wind (no idea what that means) than seeing a club dump a vet who's playing fairly well to replace him with a rookie who goes on to suck.

That's why Keyshawn's apparent retirement rings such a bell with me. He's a veteran guy I won't miss for a instant. He is the type of guy who, if he still had the ability to back it up, would remain as obnoxious and morale-destroying as, for a random example, T.O. Or maybe T.O. Then there's T.O. I think my keyboard is stuck...I meant to also say T...Randy...Moss...O. Whew. That was like passing a kidney stone!

My dislike (I can't say "hatred" despite the vitriol almost required for blogs) of Keyshawn began, as it did for many, with that friggin' book he wrote. "Just Give Me the Damn Ball." There may have been some actual sportsmanlike parts in it, but what mattered to me was the trashing of QB Neil O'Donnell and, especially, the kind of guy everybody loves: Wayne Chrebet (Keysh's main competitor for said ball).

Aside from ignoring any values kids should be learning about teamwork, humility, having class, etc., Keyshawn's published tirade sucked on many other levels. Bear with me as I circle around to the point. Wayne came to the team in 1995 as a free agent, climbed the depth chart, and properly won over fans with a 66-catch season. Keyshawn was the Jets' number one draft pick the next year, and the duo gave O'Donnell a fine tandem to work with: as a rookie, Johnson caught 63 passes for 844 yards and 8 TDs. But obviously, he was jealous of The Green Lantern's superior numbers for the year (84-909, though only 3 TDs). So, Jets fans (and football fans in general; this is a rare subject in which my interests actually overlapped with the Jets') recoiled in disgust as this snotty L.A. kid, with his multi-million contract and six-inch height advantage over his counterpart, dissed the (local) Jersey boy, who made a fraction of Motormouth's salary and who worked his ass off to get where he was. By the way, O'Donnell, hardly the worst QB a receiver could hope for, was also from New Jersey.

So get the locals to hate you and call extra attention to every pass you drop (and there were quite a few) while you're at it. Brilliant.

As we all know, Keysh made up for all that by alienating coaches and teammates most everywhere he went afterwards. This cost him dearly in 2003, when Bucs coach Jon Gruden couldn't take the shenanigans anymore and suspended him for the last six games of the year. Finishing with 45-600-3 numbers when 80 catches and a thousand yards were in his sights had to hurt like hell, and I loved the poetic justice of it. Then there were some Parcells fireworks in Dallas for a couple of years before he was dropped (in favor of T.O.). He moved on to Carolina last year, where he turned in a solid 70-catch season but had no way to get his usual bitching in with the league's top WR, Steve Smith, playing across from him--and kicking ass and taking names.

As for Mr. Chrebet, he stayed with the Jets for his entire career, until the concussions resulting from his tough play caused him to retire--as a hero and a player we all admire--after the 2005 season. I can't conclude that he is the "better" player in terms of achievement and physical skill, but in terms of making your team better and putting in effort, there's no comparison. I miss having this guy in the league and hope he's having a good life post-NFL (Google search pending). As for Mr. on...

No doubt Johnson can still contribute, and I wouldn't rule out this retirement as a means to avoid training camp and join a playoff-bound team in need later in the year. (I actually don't blame guys for doing this. I'm willing to rethink my position on this however.) But clearly it would be laughable if he tried the prima donna crap ever again. Unfortunately this is the type of person that needs that to function. So, this particular reign of terror is over, and we have one less jerk to deal with. On the field, at least, as it's inevitable that someone is going to give him a pre-game "analyst" slot...ugh.

Footnote: sadly Keyshawn eventually surpassed Chrebet in the numbers. The final (?) tally:

Wayne: 580-7365-12.7-41. Keyshawn: 814-10571-13.0-64. Both played 11 seasons: Wayne, with 3 or 4 shortened by injury; Keyshawn, with 1 shortened by being a jackass.


Rob said...

Any white wide receiver who plays well automatically becomes a beloved fan favorite so I can see where Keyshawn might naturally have had some resentment towards the Green Lantern right out of the box. However, none of that excuses trashing a guy who is (1) a teammate; (2) playing hard; and (3) making millions of dollars less than you. At least Keyshawn was a good blocker and didn't give up on plays like certain other WR's mentioned in your post. Hope he stays retired. I can see him providing some real entertainment on ESPN.

Rob said...

Oh, props on referring to Keyshawn as "Keysh". Dolphin fans should have worked hard to stick him with that (or Quiche) as his nickname when he was still a Jet.

Mike said...

A medical school colleague told me an anecdote about a friend of his who had won some kind of "DAy with Keyshawn", I dont know the details. This was during his rookie season. Keyshawn showed up at the guys' house. The lucky winner had made breakfast for him. Keyshawn brought some ghetto buddies with him and they made fun of the winner's cooking and insisted on going to Mickey Dee's.

Needless tosay, after that, the guy hated Keyshawn. Naturally.