When he was playing in the NFL, Keyshawn Johnson was never bashful about speaking his mind.
That’s continued in his role as a father, with tough words for his own son as he takes an involuntary break from college football.
Freshman wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson Jr. is taking a leave of absence from Nebraska, after being caught with marijuana in his dorm room in June. He’s now back home in California and may take classes at a junior college this fall.
The elder Johnson said his son needed to “mature” before he went back to Nebraska to continue his career.
Johnson has a close relationship with Cornhuskers coach Mike Riley, who was his offensive coordinator at Southern Cal. And Riley has confirmed the leave of absence for the younger Johnson, who was one of his most celebrated recruits.
“One thing you will not do as my son is you will not embarrass Nebraska, you will not embarrass Mike Riley and you will not embarrass this family,” the elder Johnson said, via Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald. “If you mature and you’re ready to resume your football career and academic goals, then Nebraska will be ready to embrace you.”
The former Jets, Buccaneers, Cowboys, and Panthers wideout said he consulted with Riley and the school’s athletic department. Conspicuously absent from the discussions was Johnson Jr.
“I never asked him,” Johnson Sr. said. “At the end of the day, I don’t think that decision was in his hands. He squandered that decision. He still wants to play football, and he still wants to play for Nebraska. But if you don’t do the things you’re supposed to do, under the guidelines of me, it’s not going to happen. . . .
“You’ve watched — on Instagram, on Facebook, on Twitter — everything’s a big party. You just want to get to college to party, but you don’t understand: You’re playing college football. It’s a business. And it’s a serious business. If you want to become successful — make it to the NFL — you’ve got to embrace it. You’ve got to own it. You don’t make it to the next level by cruising. There’s no cruise control.
“There’s no ‘Mike Riley is good friends with Keyshawn, so his son’s automatically going to play.’ That’s not the game. That’s not why he went to Nebraska. He went there to work his tail off. To have an opportunity to be successful. But when you don’t do that — and you squander that — what are you going to do?”
We’ll see down the line whether the strategy is successful, but it’s clear that Johnson isn’t going to let his son skate by on his name.