Bills receiver Stevie Johnson scored a touchdown on Sunday, pulled up his jersey to reveal a “Happy New Year” shirt, got penalized for that celebration, and then was benched for the rest of the game.
Afterward, Johnson claimed he didn’t know the celebration would draw a flag.
“I didn’t know it was going to draw a penalty,” Johnson told the Buffalo News. “At the end of the day what I did is what I did. I was trying to bring it in like a New Year and ultimately it hurt my teammates and that’s what’s hurting me the most, the fact that it hurt my team.”
For Johnson to say he didn’t know his celebration was going to draw a penalty is ridiculous. Johnson has previously been penalized and fined by the NFL for excessive celebrations, and warned by Bills coach Chan Gailey to knock it off. By this point, he should emulate Barry Sanders after every touchdown: Hand the ball to the official and jog to the sideline. That Johnson continues with silly celebrations despite all those warnings demonstrates that he’s more interested in drawing attention to himself than he is in helping his team win.
As for Gailey, he says that when Johnson got a 15-yard penalty for a celebration earlier in the season, the entire team was put on notice that another such penalty would result in a benching.
“Well, what we said after we had an issue earlier in the season was if anybody got a penalty that hurt our football team for any kind of demonstration that he was out that game and then we would decide about the next game,” Gailey said. “And so if I say that, then I am going to do it so he was out.”
Johnson apparently didn’t care enough about Gailey’s warning to heed it, although after Sunday’s game he said he respects his coach.
“I have to respect his decision, he made it and that’s what it is,” Johnson said. “You can’t complain about it and whine and pout. He made a decision and I’m going with it. It really doesn’t matter why or what or how. At the end of the day, what I did hurt my teammates and I have to take that and I will.”
Johnson becomes a free agent in March. As talented a receiver as Johnson is, the Bills may decide to let him take his 15-yard penalties elsewhere.