Profanity Alert: This interview contains bad words. If you don’t like that, don’t read it.
Keyshawn Johnson, a Super Bowl champion and ESPN analyst, is reinventing himself as a reality TV star/interior designer.
Keyshawn Johnson, a Pro Bowl wide receiver, played for the Dallas Cowboys, one of the biggest franchises in sports. In the 2002-2003 NFL seasons, Keyshawn earned a Super Bowl title with The Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After retiring, he joined the ranks of ESPN NFL analysts and is now a regular on ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown.” Success has followed him off the field as well; Keyshawn has started two businesses: First Picks Management and Keyshawn Capitol Development and is about to launch his third.
I had the opportunity to interview Keyshawn about his new venture into interior design and his new show on A&E, “Keyshawn Johnson: Tackling Design.”
RICHARD PARK: Congratulations on your new show, “Keyshawn Johnson: Tackling Design.” How’s the show going?
KEYSHAWN JOHNSON: It’s been pretty good. I finished all of the episodes; taped and recorded everything. Everything has been great.
RP: Going from football to interior design sounds like a big change. Have you always been interested in design?
KJ: I think it’s just going from football, for me interior designing is just a small portion. The biggest thing is for me to create my own product line which would entail wallpaper, rugs, you know, home accessories. That’s what I’m really reaching for. Not reaching to become an interior designer, more so into being a designer for products.
RP: How did you come up with the idea for this show?
KJ: Well it was pitched to me through another production company. My production company 1925 and Screen Door productions kind of formed a coalition and decided it would be best for us to go down this avenue and do a design show, where it would introduce me to the design world rather then coming out with a product line.
RP: When will we be able to see some of your products?
KJ: The market is down right now. It’s good to be in the early stages of everything so when I get fully going I can have everything in place and we can actually start the process when the market picks up.
RP: You are obviously a very successful person, both in the world of sports and as an entrepreneur. How did you translate your success from the field to everyday life?
KJ: I just try to surround myself with the right individuals so that we can make sure that we are doing the right things. I’ve learned from some of the best guys in business and followed their models and go from there. Once I stepped off the football field I no longer considered myself a football player. I made the transition immediately into something other than that.
RP: What character traits do professional football players and entrepreneurs share?
KJ: Just discipline. Making sure all of my goals as an entrepreneur are set, you know, everything that I want to obtain. I had a plan in place when I first became an athlete. When my time was over I wanted to make the transition smoothly without there being a struggle.
RP: How was that transition? What was the hardest thing about it?
KJ: Just saying that I didn’t want to play anymore.
RP: What’s the hardest thing about launching a new company?
KJ: Putting the right people around you, people that you can trust.
RP: What worries you most when you start a new business?
KJ: Everything that I do is patience, I don’t rush into anything. As long as you are patient, you’re fine. People don’t understand patience. If I made $1 versus $50 I would still be happy because at some point in time I will make that $50. I always learned I’ve got to crawl before I walk and I’ve got to walk before I run. I think that in society and life in general people get sidetracked and they start to look at other people and start to compete with the Jones’—they don’t have patience. Patience is the key to anything you do. You can’t get frustrated. You know, when I get frustrated I just leave it alone, I throw it away. I’m not going to get frustrated and continue to just hold on to something and revitalize it or bring it back. I throw it away and I start all over again. That’s where people go wrong, they stick with things, and they pour more money into things. People always say ‘you should try and make it work, you should go to counseling, in personal relationships, if it’s not f*cking working then it’s not f*cking working, let it go. All you are going to do is waste time, waste energy, and you’re going to grow grey hair. You should cut it off and let the sh*t go. At the end of the day you’ll be happy, they’ll be happy and you can live your life. I apply my work ethic to that as well.
RP: What other advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
KJ: Be smart. Be smart with your money. All deals aren’t great deals. You don’t necessarily have to take that deal.
RP: How does the NFL help new players manage their money?
KJ: Well, they don’t really help you. They have certain guys that come in and speak to you and advise you on certain stuff. And it’s up to you whether or not you want to do it. They don’t advise you they just put people around you; kind of tell you what to do right or wrong and it’s up to you if you want to follow it.
RP: Is there anything that you would like our audience to know?
KJ: I’m not the asshole that people try to make me out to be.
“Keyshawn Johnson: Tackling Design” premieres Saturday, July 18, 12N/11C on A&E.
For more information: http://www.aetv.com/keyshawn-johnson-tackling-design/