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Keyshawn defends his off-season lifestyle

Bucs receiver says commitments prevent him from making all full-squad workouts. Some coaches are disappointed.

By RICK STROUD

© St. Petersburg Times,
published May 30, 2001


TAMPA -- Bucs quarterbacks aren't the only ones having a tough time locating Keyshawn Johnson.

Johnson, who is expected to be a bigger focal point of the offense next season, disappointed some coaches by being absent Tuesday for the second time in four of the club's 14 full-squad workouts.

Johnson said he was hosting a fundraiser Tuesday night in Los Angeles for mayoral candidate Jimmy Hahn and would fly to Tampa this morning to resume the voluntary workouts.

"I don't make much of it," coach Tony Dungy said. "He normally takes the red-eye and gets here Tuesday morning. I don't know why he's not here. "They get the schedule early, and if it's important enough to them, they'll be there."

Johnson, who has been more of a fixture this off-season at One Buc Place, said off-field commitments to his family and business, as well as his personal training regimen in Los Angeles, will prevent him from making some of the workouts.

"I've got kids out here, and I've got a business. I don't care about missing one or two workouts," he said. "I'm going to miss more days. I fly every week, and I pay my own damn money to be there. I've been doing it the whole off-season. They'd better go on with that. I train in California. It's something I've always done. I'm not going to have none of that.

"They need to continue to allow me to do the things I've been doing to make myself better."

Johnson -- who also missed the first day of full-squad workouts on May 22 -- was highly scrutinized in his first season with the Bucs but still approached career averages with 71 receptions for 874 yards and eight touchdowns.

New offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen wants to make the receiver a bigger part of the offense. And Johnson will be working with a new quarterback, Brad Johnson, signed as a free agent from the Redskins.

Nearly all the Bucs veterans and rookies under contract were present Tuesday. But Keyshawn Johnson said the Bucs have no reason to worry about his absence.

"I'm not the normal professional athlete," he said. "I never will be. My off-season is important to me. I am going to be there as much as I can and when I can. If it's not enough for you, then make the workouts mandatory and fine me. I heard the same thing in New York. But I'm putting in different work than most players.

"I'm not going to be the same Keyshawn Johnson for 2001 that I was in 2000. Vocally or on the field. Complaining now is the wrong thing to do."

Johnson, who owns a restaurant, runs a charitable foundation and lives in Los Angeles, said his commitments prevent him from spending the off-season in Tampa.

"My schedule is planned way in advance," Johnson said. "I knew we'd be off Memorial Day. That's why we didn't do (the fund-raiser) yesterday, because it was a holiday.

"I'm flying back for a day and a half. I'll get there before practice (today) and will be leaving Thursday after practice."

Besides, even Dungy, who had to attend the owners meeting in Chicago last week, missed the first full-squad workout.

"It's voluntary," Dungy said. "We've had good participation in the off-season, which is why we've been good."

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