Pro Bowl wide-receiver-turned-ESPN analyst Keyshawn Johnson offers his predictions for the 2008/2009 NFL season
MF: Can you look into your crystal ball and tell us who you see in the Super Bowl this year?
KJ: I still like the Pats and the Giants. For some reason, I think Dallas will be overwhelmed with their responsibility of trying to dethrone the Giants [in the NFC], not to mention the usual hoopla the Cowboys go through each year. And I think the Pats just have a stranglehold on the AFC-and they have something to prove this year. I think the Giants will cruise right through and surprise a lot of teams.
Any potential dark horse teams?
I think the New Orleans Saints can sneak in there and do something, especially with the addition of Jeremy Shockey. They'll be better defensively. And the San Diego Chargers have an opportunity now that they have Chris Chambers as a true receiver.
Who are your MVPs at the end of the season?
Offensively, it'll probably be Tom Brady. He has a lot of weapons, and he'll put up a lot of big numbers again. Defensively, I like Antonio Cromartie from the Chargers. They play against pretty awful quarterbacks in his division. He'll have an opportunity to return to Pro Bowl form, get some interceptions, and easily turn some of those interceptions into touchdowns. And keep in mind, when the hype machine starts rolling, people will start believing.
What upcoming games do you have circled on your calendar?
Jets in New England [Nov. 13]. Why? Favre versus Brady will be an intriguing matchup. And the Philadelphia Eagles going to Dallas early in the season. I just think that's gonna be a good one.
Speaking of Favre, what are your thoughts on his unretirement?
He's a good thing for the Jets. I think they'll have an opportunity. He'll add some sizzle to the team, but I don't think they're a playoff-caliber team right now. But he's an upgrade from the QB they had last year.
Does being an analyst on ESPN add extra motivation to work out?
Let's just say I'll be in the gym first thing tomorrow morning, for four days a week. I have to drop about 10 pounds, so I'll be doing a lot of ab work and leg work. I'll be using the Stairmaster and treadmill a lot. I'll do some dumbbells, some hang cleans, work on my triceps and biceps. And I play basketball every single week, three to four times a week. It's good, competitive cardio for me.
It sounds as though you're training hard. Will we ever see Keyshawn back on the field?
Nope! Not even close. The problem is, I love to play the game - but I ain't gonna do it for free. And these general managers don't seem to get what they're getting and what the worth of the player is. And I'm not gonna play for $2 million; you're not gonna pay me like I'm some dude from the scrap heap. Right now, I'm so removed from playing football, it's not even funny.