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Howard Simon's Blog

Stevie Johnson angers some with comments on workouts

We like when athletes give us an honest opinion rather than give us a filtered answer in an effort to avoid a potential controversy.   Eric Wood may have forever endeared himself in the hearts of Bills fans when he ripped the series in Toronto.  But sometimes that honest answer doesn't go over well, as is the case with some comments made by Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson last Friday.
Johnson was on the Jim Rome show and at the very end of a fairly nondescript 16 minute interview, Johnson clearly had the filter off when Rome asked him about his off season routine.  Johnson replied that he was actually going to work out and then laughed.  He said he usually doesn't have an off season regimen other than playing basketball and some running and the only time he did work out was the off season before his rookie year when he was trying to make the NFL.
“I probably shouldn’t be saying this" Johnson said.  "They give us the booklet and I put it in the drawer.  I really don’t do it.”
That may or may not have upset you but if it didn't, there's a chance his next comment did.
“I’ve had three seasons with a thousand yards and that’s without doing like real football work so who knows what will happen if I really put in work" Johnson said.   "Maybe I can eclipse a thousand and go to twelve hundred, maybe thirteen.  Maybe I’ll be more energized to finish out games and get things done. I’m going to be working hard from next Sunday(February 10th) till April 1st when I go back.”
I didn't hear the interview and had no idea what he said when I turned on Schopp and Bulldog on Friday, expecting to hear them talk about the Sabres win in Boston the night before.  I joined in mid segment and Mike was really angry about something and I had no idea what it was.  I listened to the discussion, heard what some of the callers had to say and eventually listened to the entire interview since it was in the On Demand portion of our web site.  That is a not so subtle plug to earn brownie points with my boss.
First off, I will tell you that I could care less what Stevie Johnson does with his off season workouts as long as he comes to camp in shape and ready to go.  Some guys go to the gym, some guys run up the side of mountains, other guys run stadium steps and others may run along beaches.  Whatever works for each individual is fine with me so the comment about taking the booklet sent to him by the team and putting it in a drawer didn't bug me.  I think the fact he plays basketball has turned out to be a benefit because he can use basketball moves to shake free of cornerbacks.
I didn't like what he said about having better numbers if he had "really put in the work".  To me, that sounds like a player who wasn't doing everything he could to make himself better.  It takes a certain amount of work to make the jump from college to the NFL and Johnson may have done more than many, having to earn a spot as a 7th round draft pick from a University of Kentucky program not known for producing a lot of NFL talent.
Then it takes another level of commitment and work ethic to not only stay in the NFL and succeed but to elevate your game once you are a proven commodity.  Johnson's comment gives the perception that he may have been satisfied with where he was at over his last three seasons with the Bills.  
I also consider Johnson a leader on not only the offense but for the entire Bills team and that isn't something I would want to hear from one of the team leaders.  
One caller to our show brought up the idea that Johnson has always had a problem with articulating his mindset and maybe he just expressed himself with the wrong words.
To me, mindset and articulation are two different issues.  If I agreed with the message that Johnson was trying to deliver but he just didn't say it in the right manner than it wouldn't bother me but its his mindset I'm worried about with these comments.  The remarks make it sound like he knew he could have done more, that he didn't, but now it is going to change.  
I am curious to see how this plays out with new Head Coach Doug Marrone who had a no nonsense approach at Syracuse.  After turning around the Orange program, Marrone was given credit for changing attitudes, laying down tougher rules and instilling some discipline.  Those who did not like his rules were told they could leave the team.  I wonder if Marrone plans to talk to Johnson about what he said or if he just lets it go as a non issue.
Schopp and Bulldog discussed the idea of cutting Johnson over his remarks.  There is no way I would do that because I think it would be a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.  Johnson is a talented football player on a team that still doesn't have enough of that and with the right quarterback, he would have twelve to thirteen hundred yard seasons(regardless of his workout regimen) so lopping him off the roster only makes the team worse.  Instead of needing to bring in one impact  receiver this off season, the Bills would be in the market for two.
So for now, I will be glad that Johnson gives an honest answer to a question but also take a certain amount of anger away at what he said and how flippant his comments sounded.


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