For the first time in a long time, the Buffalo Bills are in the middle of a championship window. Armed with a franchise quarterback and a talented roster, Buffalo is set to be one of the main players in the AFC. However, there were plenty of great players from those bad teams of yesterday, with Stevie Johnson being one of the most memorable. The wide receiver was easily the best player in Buffalo’s passing attack for quite some time and his colorful personality made him one of the most exciting players on the Bills.
Looking Back on the Career of Stevie Johnson
Stevie Johnson originally entered the NFL as a seventh-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. As is expected out of someone with this draft selection, the Kentucky product struggled to see the field early in his career. Through the first two years of his career, Johnson recorded just 12 receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns.
However, the speedy wide receiver finally earned a starting job during his third year in the league. Breaking out in a big way, Johnson finished the 2010 campaign with 82 receptions for 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns. He proved that this wasn’t a one-year fluke, recording over 1,000 yards in each of the next two seasons. Astonishingly, Johnson was the first receiver in franchise history to ever record this feat.
Johnson managed to put up these great numbers despite having to line up against Darrelle Revis twice a year. Revis was unquestionably the best cornerback of his time, yet Johnson continuously found a way to produce against the future Hall of Famer. In their four matchups from 2010 to 2011, Johnson managed to record at least one touchdown or 70 yards in each matchup (Revis missed all but one game of the 2012 season with a torn ACL).
Of course, you can’t talk about Stevie Johnson without mentioning his larger-than-life persona. Whether it was blaming God for dropping a game-winning touchdown or writing “why so serious” under his jersey, Johnson always had something interesting going on behind the scenes. Perhaps the biggest incident of Johnson’s career was in a Week 17 matchup against the New England Patriots. After going up 21-0, Johnson lifted his jersey to reveal “Happy New Year” written on his undershirt. Head coach Chan Gailey benched him for this act, and Buffalo went on to lose, 49-21.
Life After Buffalo
The Buffalo Bills parted ways with Ryan Fitzpatrick following the 2012 season, and Johnson simply wasn’t the same without his gunslinging quarterback. Johnson finished the first year of the E.J. Manuel Era with just 52 receptions for 597 yards and three touchdowns. Following the selection of Sammy Watkins, the Bills traded Johnson to the San Francisco 49ers for a conditional fourth-round pick.
Johnson struggled in San Francisco, recording just 35 receptions for 435 yards and three touchdowns. The 49ers parted ways with the receiver following the season, but the receiver landed on his feet. Signing a three-year deal with the San Diego Chargers, Johnson finished the 2015 season with 45 receptions for 497 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games.
Unfortunately, this would be the last time Johnson graced the NFL stage. After battling injuries through the back half of 2015, Johnson missed all of 2016 with a meniscus injury. The Chargers cut Johnson, and no other team was willing to take a risk on the injured veteran. Johnson currently works as a head coach for his former high school football team.
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