If you have a problem with Keyshawn Johnson, you have a problem with yourself.– Keyshawn JohnsonSAN DIEGO — Well, there you go. That answers it. All this time I’ve been wondering what the problem is, and now I know. It’s me. I have a problem with myself. Oh, Keyshawn, if only you had told me sooner. The therapy I could have saved!

Johnson uttered this mother of all statements just a few days ago, here at Super Bowl XXXVII. It was so priceless, so amazingly brazen, that at first I thought he was misquoted.

Then, the next day, he said it again.

“Most people are flat-out jealous, that’s just how it is,” he told us all at the morning press gathering. “If you couldn’t be a certain way in your career
. . . you walk around bitter.

“That’s why I say, if you have a problem with Keyshawn Johnson, you have a problem with yourself. You need to do some soul searching.”

Wow. Give me a sec.

I’m having a Dr. Phil moment here.

Ahh. I feel purged. No longer do I need to cast doubt on Keyshawn Johnson. No longer do I need to wonder why a seventh-year receiver who has never elevated his team, who has never won a championship, and who, in the 2001 season, caught exactly one touchdown pass, walks around like the peacock with the first-place ribbon.

Now I know. It’s me. I am inwardly tortured.

Just give me the damn Freud.

Big talk, little action

Here is more from Keyshawn on Wednesday morning:

“Why should I care what people think? They don’t write my check. . . . At the end of the day, it’s like Pete Rose. At the end of the day, he was one of the all-time baseball players, no matter what you say, you know what I’m saying?”

Wait. Who’s saying what now?

“No matter what you say about Keyshawn Johnson, at the end of the day, you’re gonna have to give him his just due.”

OK, hang on. First of all, how many things are supposed to happen at the end of the day? I thought at the end of the day, the sun went down. Since when did Pete Rose and Keyshawn get in there?

Secondly, if we are talking about giving Johnson his due, fine. Here is what he is due. This past season, when his team, the Tampa Bay Bucs, played a big game against the Green Bay Packers, Johnson had two catches. His teammate, Joe Jurevicius, had five — including a touchdown.

In another big game against Atlanta, Johnson had two catches for a mere 25 yards. Jurevicius had eight and two touchdowns.

In games decided by seven or fewer points this year, Johnson had no touchdowns. In the NFC championship, he had fewer catches than the running back. In receiving yards, he finished this season behind such luminaries as Chad Johnson of Cincinnati and Koren Robinson of Seattle.

I never heard of either of them. Not even at the end of the day.

Nothing special

“People say I’m selfish, they call me ‘Me-shawn’ — I love that, really I do
— because you’re paying attention. There’s something there that irks you.”

Well, that’s true, Keyshawn. But irking people doesn’t make you special. Mosquitoes do that. And being talked about doesn’t make you great. People talked about Lee Harvey Oswald, too.

He tells his quarterback they don’t throw to him enough. He complains that his coach, Jon Gruden, “makes little smart-ass comments.”

The fact is, Keyshawn Johnson is a 30-year-old receiver who, under a different name, would barely be noticed. He makes some nice catches now and then, shows some nice ability, but is rarely a game-turner. Even in Sunday’s showdown, you might want to throw to three other guys — Jerry Rice, Jerry Porter, Jurevicius — before you went to Johnson.

And one more thing, Keyshawn. Let’s drop the third-person thing, OK? In the new “Lord of the Rings” movie, there’s this animated creature named Smeagol, and he’s all bug-eyes and bald head and skinny arms and spiny back and HE uses the third person, saying things like “Smeagol like Master. Master like Smeagol.”

From an alien, we can take it. From you, we don’t have to. When you come back to earth, maybe we’ll find the intelligent person behind your annoying bravado.

“Hey, if I wasn’t exciting, you’d say I was boring. I’m not asking you to talk to me. If you don’t give me any more ink, I don’t care. . . . “

OK. We won’t.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or albom@freepress.com. Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760).

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