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Fast and Furious with Finesse

Keyshawn Johnson, once one of the NFL's premier wide receivers, has moved on with a flourish to his next life as a broadcaster and businessman.
Marshall Fine
From the Print Edition:
Arnon Milchan, September/October 2008

(continued from page 3)

Johnson proved adept at shooting from the lip in ways that entertained viewers and occasionally rankled the players he critiqued. The moment that seemed to define him came during an interview with showboating Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson, in which he tried to school the player in the right and wrong way to celebrate a touchdown.

That interview—still available on YouTube—crackles with tension and friction, with Keyshawn coolly piercing Chad's calm veneer.

"I try to tell the truth and keep it as clear as possible," Keyshawn says. "Some people believe there's a code, that if you played the game, you're not supposed to say those things. But I can't say a guy is doing great if he's really struggling. I'd look like a damn fool."

"That Chad Johnson interview was one of the best things I ever saw," Tom Jackson says. "That opened a lot of people's eyes."

Adds Markman, "I'd take one of those every week. He's not afraid to ask the tough questions. And he's just a rookie at this."

Johnson wants to do more interviews for ESPN. And if any of the scandals of the off-season come up during the 2008 NFL, Johnson has opinions at the ready. The controversy about the New England Patriots stealing signals by videotaping opponents' practices? A molehill, says Johnson, who played for Patriots coach Bill Belichick when both were with the Jets: "It's been blown out of proportion by the media. The game hasn't changed in 10 years, but the media has. Those morons—they're fucking wackos. And now I'm part of it."

Steroids are a different story: "If you're on steroids, you're a loser and you'll never be a champion," Johnson says flatly. "I don't respect anyone who cheats to get ahead."

Entering his sophomore season on ESPN, Johnson wants to expand his TV portfolio. He's already got a reality series in production for the A&E Network, in which he offers makeovers for people's homes as an interior design consultant.

"A production company found me because of an article on interior design I did and pitched me the show," says Johnson, who is lending his name to a line of home furnishings as well as a fashion line. "I have a knack for design. It's all about taste. I look at books and buy every magazine out there that has anything to do with interior design. There are tons of them. And I've gotten better and better at it."

He also wouldn't turn down a TV talk show, preferably one produced by the production company he is creating.

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