Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cleveland Steamer


Like many Trenton-area sports fans, we watched Hamilton native Kevin Johnson's progression from All-State high school quarterback to his position battle at Syracuse with Donovan McNabb to his conversion to wide receiver and being drafted by the Cleveland Browns.

For a good five year stretch, his #85 Browns jersey stood proudly in Quakerbridge Mall beside Eagles and Giants greens and blues.

And then, it was gone. The jerseys and the player.

Despite being the Browns' leading receiver since being drafted, his inablity to coexist with then-coach Butch Davis lead to his being cut by the team, and subsequent downfall from NFL stardom.

While at first the transacton perplexed football fans, and fueled rumors that he would soon be an Eagle, stints with the Ravens, Jags and Lions proved unfruitful and Johnson, now at age 32, has been out of the game for 3 years.

The best idea anyone had was that he punched his ticket out of the League for being a malcontent.

Thus, I found it disheartening as he channeled his inner Al Bundy to pen a piece for this year's 50th Anniversary of the Hamilton HS West (Johnson's alma mater)/Steinert High School annual Thanksgiving Day game:

I cannot help but smile and laugh thinking of the “We’ve got Kevin, Yes we do, We’ve got Kevin, How about you?” chanted by the Hamilton fans in my senior year or the importance to my teammates and I that we win every Thanksgiving Day game.
His humble reflection on family, tradition and community brings this once bright, shining star back to earth and leaves some locals wondering, "What the hell happened to his guy, that, only a decade after his being on top of the world, he's sitting in Trenton with the rest of us this holiday?"

1 comment:

Russianator said...

I was always a huge KJ fan. What people may not know is he barely lost the QB competition to McNabb as a redshirt frosh....kind of interesting to think of what might have been.