FOXBORO, Mass. — Five weeks ago, after a column blasting Bills’ wide receiver Stevie Johnson for his ridiculous, penalty-inducing post-touchdown celebration in a loss to the Jets at the Meadowlands, a Buffalo fan contended in an e-mail that it was mediatypes like me who ran athletes out of town.
Would that we had such clout.
And I wonder how he feels today.
Once again, for the fourth time in 30 games, Johnson failed the common sense IQ test by responding to a TD on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium with yet another display that evoked a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct flag.
On an 18-yard touchdown reception from Ryan Fitzpatrick, which should have been the celebration of a franchise milestone, instead Johnson, who clearly doesn’t learn, pulled up his jersey to reveal a “Happy New Year” message on the shirt underneath.
It wasn’t an egregious violation, but it was planned, and the closest official wasn’t amused.
Neither was Bills’ coach Chan Gailey who pulled Mr. It’s All About Me for the rest of the game.
Clearly he was furious that Johnson didn’t remember his own words after the incident against the Jets.
In that one, the former seventh-round draft choice did a pantomime of New York wide receiver Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the leg, then followed it with an imitation of a (jet) plane crashing in the end zone.
After Johnson was fined $10,000 for that ridiculous display, he admitted Gailey “was telling me I have to be smarter. I’ve got to be more aware of the situations and rules. I’ll listen to every word that he says. That’s my coach.”
That temporary wisdom lasted exactly four games-plus.
After yesterday’s 49-21 loss to the Pats, Gailey explained, “We said after we had an issue (in the Jets game) that if anybody got a penalty that hurt our football team for any kind of demonstration, that he was out of the game ... and we would decide about the next game.
“If I say that, then I’m going to do it ... so he was out.”
He added, I am disappointed (but) if it hurts the team, I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.
“You’ve got to learn from your mistakes. I’ve said this a hundred times, he’s not a bad guy ... he’s a good guy, but he uses some bad judgment at times and if you do that enough and it hurts the team, you’ve got to do something.”
UNFORTUNATELY, Johnson has shown disturbing signs of being a serial knucklehead.
Twice last year he was fined for touchdown celebrations.
The first was at Gillette where, after scoring, he pretended to shoot a musket, mimicking the Pats’ mascots, then falling backward in the end zone, during a 38-30 loss to the Pats.
That cost him $10,000.
Then, just to prove he isn’t a quick study, seven games later he scored at Cincinnati and, pulled up his jersey to reveal a shirt with the words, “Why so serious?”
He wasn’t flagged, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell docked him another $5,000.
After Sunday’s game, Johnson maintained, “I didn’t know it was going to draw a penalty ... what I did (was) try to bring in the New Year. Ultimately it hurt my teammates and this is the thing that’s hurting me most.
“Coach told me I was out of the game ,,, and I have to respect his decision. I can’t complain or whine or pout ... it doesn’t matter why or how it happened ... I hurt my teammates, I have to take that, and I will.”
ON HIS last play Sunday — and it could well be his final one as a Bill — Johson’s TD catch put his over 1,000 receiving yards, making him the first player in franchise history to reach that standard in back-to-back seasons.
Re-signing him would normally be a no-brainer.
But, all this season, Buffalo’s hierarchy has opted not to give Johnson, a free agent come March, an extension.
And when asked about the wideouts future in Buffalo, Gailey noted, somewhat cryptically, “Let’s talk about that in the days to come ... let’s not talk about (it) today.”
However, there are front office insiders who feel Johnson, though saying he wants to remain a Bill, won’t be brought back ... by the team’s choice.
And if Stevie wonders why, a mere glance in the mirror should suffice.
(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor can be reached at email@example.com)