ESPN’s Keyshawn Johnson travelled to Texas this week to interview two of the NFL’s breakout stars – Dallas Cowboys Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. His conversation with the dynamic rookie duo – both of whom were named to the Pro Bowl this week – will be featured tonight on Monday Night Countdown (6 p.m. ET) before the Cowboys host the Detroit Lions in ESPN’s Monday Night Football regular-season finale.
– Keyshawn Johnson after interviewing Cowboys Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott
Johnson, who played two seasons in Dallas (2004-05) during his 11-year career, knows what it’s like to be in the NFL spotlight, especially as a rookie. The No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft, Johnson famously appeared in a “This Is SportsCenter” commercial with then-NBA rookie Kobe Bryant as ESPN anchors Stuart Scott and Kenny Mayne gave them advice – albeit misguided – on how to deal with media.
What were your impressions of Prescott and Elliott from your conversation?
Both are full of confidence, full of swag. Even though they have a lot of moxie, they understand what it is to be a Dallas Cowboy and what they are trying to accomplish, which impressed me.
How was your experience back visiting the Cowboys, especially at the team’s new facility?
The first thing I said was, ‘How come I couldn’t have this when I was playing?’ It just screams [Dallas Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones and top-of-the-line professional organization. I have seen Oregon, USC, the New York Jets, and other places, but I’ve never seen anything like this facility before. This has them all beat by far.
Architecturally, the clean lines, it’s almost like less is more. It tells the story and all the meaningful history of the Cowboys – the Super Bowls, the big-time players who played there. You just have to see it to believe it.
What’s it like now being the NFL veteran interviewing two rookies when you appeared in that SportsCenter (see videos below) spot almost 20 years ago?
Even though Stuart and Kenny were joking, when I was a rookie we did need to learn how to deal with the media. Now, these guys already know how to handle it because of all the media attention and social media. They don’t need media training because they have it all figured out. That was a fun experience for me, being a part of that. I was just a rookie coming out of college and it was my first real commercial.
How is your new role, now based in Los Angeles, for ESPN?
It’s all going according to plan. I enjoy working with Jorge [Sedano] and LZ [Granderson] on the radio show, SportsCenter Coast to Coast [co-anchor]Cari [Champion] on Tuesdays on SportsCenter, and [1 a.m. SportsCenter anchors] Stan [Verrett] and Neil [Everett] on Thursday nights. I also like getting to do sit-down interviews like this with the Cowboys and the one I did early in the year with [Seattle Seahawks receiver] Doug Baldwin. Although I’m not on the Sunday and Monday shows, I’m just as busy and I get a chance to do what I need to do on the weekends – watch games and spend time with my family without travelling. It’s been great.
Editor’s Note: Here’s another version of the “Rookie Camp” TISC spot featuring Keyshawn Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Karl Ravech, Kenny Mayne and the late, great Stuart Scott.