FAIRFIELD (CBS13) — NFL fans on Sunday saw the arrogance of Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson, whose controversial touchdown dance he says cost his team the game against the New York Jets.
But his former coaches in Fairfield say that’s not Stevie at all. In fact, he comes from humble beginnings, forging what would become an NFL career at Rodriguez High School.
On Sunday, the Fairfield native went from hero to goat in a matter of seconds. The Bills wide receiver had just scored a touchdown on one of the NFL’s best defensive players, Darrelle Revis, but his end zone celebration was over the top. Johnson pretended to shoot himself in the leg, poking fun at his opponent Plaxico Burress, who spent nearly two years in prison on a gun possession conviction after he shot himself in a New York City nightclub.
The antic cost the Bills a 15-yard penalty, compounded when Buffalo kicker Dave Rayner botched the ensuing kickoff to give the Jets possession of the ball at Buffalo’s 36. Burress quickly hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass of his own.
The Jets went on to beat the Bills 28-24 in a critical game for both teams’ playoff hopes.
“I just got to apologize to everyone, talk to coach,” Johnson said in the locker room after the game. “I can’t be doing that, I got to be more mature about the situation.”
But Johnson’s former coaches at Rodriguez High say he is a good person. They say he admitted his mistake and is better for it.
“Stevie has character. He had a lot of character here, he still has a lot of character,” said Bob Pickett, who coached Johnson at Rodriguez. “He cares about people, he cares about the school.”
Rodriguez head football coach Jason Ott says Johnson comes back every spring just to talk to his players.
“We’re very proud of him as a football player and where he’s come from,” Ott said.
But this week Johnson is a national name, not for his touchdowns, but for his post-touchdown antics. He has an image to repair and has indicated his post-score celebrations could be over.
Johnson does have the help of his family. His father, Steve Johnson Sr. called 1140 The Fan’s Grant Napear Show in defense of his son.
“After the game, he knew he messed up,” Johnson Sr. said on the show.
Johnson once told one of his coaches at Rodriguez that when he made it to the NFL, he would come back to Fairfield and give back to his school. Now his coaches are in discussions about building the Stevie Johnson Football Complex.