The former NFL wide receiver and current ESPN analyst talks with GMPM about Bill Clinton, dangerous hits, and staying out of trouble.
Keyshawn Johnson, a former number-one pick and Super Bowl–winning wide receiver, recently partnered with Captain Morgan’s First Mate Fund, which was created to help support nonprofit organizations across the country that encourage responsible drinking habits.
Johnson, who is now an analyst for ESPN, spoke to us about the First Mate Fund and being a good man.
Why get involved with Captain Morgan?
I’m a captain. He’s a captain. It’s a perfect fit.
Why is the First Mate Fund so important?
Any time can you can do something charitable, it’s extremely important. When you help somebody, there’s a helping cause. It’s a simple thing.
Who taught you about manhood?
It’s funny you say that. I really attribute that to my mother. My mom raised six kids by herself, so there was really no father in our household. At the same time, you learn values from each other—your brothers or other fathers that you may be around. It’s just that sort of thing where you feel good about the situation that you’re in.
Was there another male figure that took on that role for you?
Of course. You had your coaches, your friends, and your brothers. Those are the male figures in your life, and you try to learn from them.
What’s the best advice anyone’s ever given you?
It sounds like the stupidest thing you’ll ever hear, but it’s “stay out of trouble.” If you stay out of trouble and do what you’re supposed to do, you’ll be successful, and you’ll be rewarded. Patience is the key. If you can have patience in things, then you’ll have an opportunity to be very successful. A lot of people aren’t patient, and when they lose patience, they get all sidetracked and off the mark.
What’s the worst advice anyone’s ever given you?
I don’t know. That’s a hard one, because in anything I do, I’m going to look at it. I’m going to scrutinize it and break it all the way down, so at the end of the day it doesn’t become bad advice. It just becomes advice.
What was your biggest mistake, and what did you learn from it?
I don’t know that I’ve had any major hiccups in my life. You sure could say getting married was a mistake, but I have two wonderful kids out of my marriage, so that may not be a mistake anymore.
Who is the best man you know, and how does he earn that distinction?
I’ve got all sorts of people, but it’s between President Clinton and a guy by the name of Keith Black. He’s a neurological surgeon out in Los Angeles at the Cedar Sinai Medical Center. Those two rank pretty high. If I wanted to be somebody in life, I would pick those two guys. One guy—the president of the United States—is pretty cool, and the other guy is a fucking neurological surgeon. He’s like the top dude. If something’s wrong with the president’s brain, he’s the guy they call in. He’s the top dog. He would be the guy.
Have you been more successful in your public or private life?
I don’t really discuss my private life. I let people form their own opinions on Facebook, blogs, their Twitters, their TMZs, and all that other shit. I don’t pay attention to any of that stuff. They don’t know what they’re talking about. I just keep my private life private. Whatever you see in the public, you see in the public. Form your own opinion. If I’m walking down the street, and you want to take a picture, take a picture. It’s your camera. I can’t stop you. I think I’ve been pretty successful keeping my private life private.
What is your most cherished ritual as a guy?
Relaxing at home by myself.
When was the last time you cried?
I have no idea. Maybe when I retired or something.
What are you addicted to?
Buying things, I guess.
Would the new NFL rules on dangerous hits have changed the way you played?
No not at all. I just do what I do.
Do you support the new rules?
I think it’s a great thing. They want to protect people and protect the integrity of the game.