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Sunday, January 19, 2003
Updated: January 20, 5:15 PM ET
It's all about Me-shawn

By Jason Whitlock
Page 2 columnist

Keyshawn Johnson erased all doubt Sunday. For those of you wondering whether professional sports had housed a more self-absorbed, self-centered, anti-team, publicity-seeking player, Me-shawn ended all debate.

Keyshawn Johnson
Keyshawn Johnson did keep his shirt on after scoring his second-quarter touchdown.
Terrell Owens, Dennis Rodman and Brian Bosworth aren't even in the same solar system as Me-shawn.

You thought stomping on the Cowboys' midfield star was in poor taste? You thought the Little Leaguer who Soul Trained his way to home plate crossed the line? You still upset with Erica Kane for sabotaging Brooke's prom night 25 years ago?

None of that compares to Me-shawn's celebration after Ronde Barber, Simeon Rice, Warren Sapp, Monte Kiffin and John Lynch carried the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the biggest victory in the team's history, a 27-10 thumping of the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game.

(And let me add that Barber might have played the most complete defensive football game the NFL has ever seen. He forced a fumble, intercepted a pass, scored the game-clinching TD, drew two crucial penalties, broke up several third-down passes and didn't miss a tackle. The league should ship Tampa's defensive game film to Canton.)

Me-shawn chose to honor's Tampa's biggest sporting victory by donning a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey with Terry Bradshaw's name emblazoned on the back.

Keyshawn Johnson
Me-shawn celebrates after the NFC title game with fans of the Steelers ... er, Bucs.
It blew my mind.

As far as I know, and someone please correct me if I'm wrong, never in the history of sports has a man or boy won a championship and decided to celebrate it by wearing another team's jersey.

The whole city of Tampa and 52 Tampa Bay players are brimming with Buccaneer pride and wildly rejoicing the end of nearly three decades of suffering, and Me-shawn is sprinting to the Tampa locker room so he can throw on a Steelers jersey and draw the attention of Terry, Howie, Jimmy, James and the Fox TV cameras.

It blew my mind.

This wasn't Kobe Bryant showing up to Lakers games wearing a different sports legend's jersey. It was, as they would say at my father's Indianapolis tavern, a "grown-ass man" kissing Bradshaw's butt in hopes of getting a postgame standup with Bradshaw and a one-on-one interview Super Bowl week.

It's another example of Me-shawn's inability to be one of the guys, one of 53 Buccaneers. He just has to be different. That's what I can't stand about Me-shawn. My dislike for Me-shawn has virtually nothing to do with our run-in after last year's Tampa-Philly contest. I've been threatened and cursed at and challenged to a brawl by more athletes than I care to admit. My sarcasm is oftentimes misunderstood.

Keyshawn Johnson
Keyshawn is just one of 53 Buccaneers -- but you wouldn't know it by watching him.
My problem with Me-shawn is that he's the worst kind of teammate. He's not near as good as he thinks. (He had another average performance Sunday, three catches, one TD and one huge drop.) And he doesn't care about the team. He's not Deion Sanders, a player who combined flamboyant style with spectacular play while remaining an outstanding teammate. Me-shawn is flamboyant. That's it.

Now I'm sure Me-shawn will run out some excuse about how he wore the jersey because Bradshaw, winner of four Super Bowls, symbolizes winning, and Me-shawn was just saying he wants to win as many titles as Bradshaw.

Bull&.

If that's really the case, then put on a Joe Montana jersey. Oh, that's right. Montana isn't the star of Fox's NFL coverage. If Me-shawn cared anything at all about the Buccaneers and their long-suffering fans, he would've sported a Doug Williams or LeRoy Selmon jersey. But they're not on Fox's NFL show either, and Me-shawn doesn't give a damn about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Instead of honoring the franchise that sacrificed two first-round draft picks for his services, spoiled him with a $52-million contract, dumped a respected coach and handed the Raiders cash and picks for Jon Gruden just so the Bucs could reach the Super Bowl, Me-shawn glossed himself and a former NFL quarterback who doesn't give a damn about Johnson or the Buccaneers.

Sad.

Me-shawn didn't fool anyone. I give Fox credit. James Brown briefly mentioned that Me-shawn has "so much respect" for Bradshaw that he donned his jersey, but beyond that Fox ignored Me-shawn after the game.

And unless Me-shawn breaks out an old Ball State jersey, I'm going to lead a Me-shawn Super Bowl boycott.

Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for the Kansas City Star (kcstar.com), the host of a morning-drive talk show, "Jason Whitlock's Neighborhood" on Sports Radio 810 WHB (810whb.com) and a regular contributor on ESPN The Magazine's Sunday morning edition of The Sports Reporters. He can be reached at ballstate0@aol.com.