Why so serious Steve Johnson?
Is that not the message the Buffalo Bills' wide receiver promenaded after his prolific performance just over a week ago against Cincinnati, posting 137 yards receiving and three touchdowns?
At least that was the wording which was sketched across an undershirt the receiver decided to display to the NFL viewing public after scoring one of those touchdowns.
His tribute, indirectly invoking the image of actor Heath Ledger playing the iconic role of the Joker in "Batman: The Dark Knight," may have taken a similar turn regarding the highest of highs professionally only culminating in depressive actions shortly afterward.
Apparently Johnson has some bipolar tendencies which presented themselves after the Bills lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Sunday, 19-16. Granted, it was a tough loss for the Bills and Johnson in particular. He dropped two sure scoring opportunities which would have ended the game, first in regulation and then in overtime.
The drop in overtime was especially excruciating. Johnson came free from two Steeler defenders who took the meaning of trail technique a little too literally, gained a few yards of cushion and ran free in the endzone. The ball was dropped in the bucket beautifully by NFL nomad and current Bills' quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Unfortunately, as Johnson attempted to squeeze the pigskin against his chest, it squirted through his grasp and fell to the ground. The Steelers regained possession after the drive and eventually won the game in the extra period.
For those who missed Johnson's eloquent ramblings via the social networking landscape, here is Johnson's twitter rant after the contest.
"I praise you 24/7!!! And this is how you do me!!!!! You expect me to learn from this??? How???!!! I'll never forget this!! Ever!!! Thx tho..."
Aside from his woeful use of the English language, Johnson is obviously referring to whatever deity he claims as his spiritual saviour.
What many athletes seem to overlook is simple. The sport of football is godless. Football is faithless. If it had to claim a religion, it would proclaim itself an atheist. It is merely a game played between white lines. Anything more is projected on the game by the individual.
Despite the millions of former and current gridiron participants to recite the Lord's Prayer before the game, the odds of betting lines existing in the Kingdom of Heaven seem unlikely. Favorites are determined by individual will, talent and preparation - not divine intervention. Prayers should remain within the realm of player's safety. Who wins and loses in the eyes of God is inconsequential.
It is merely a game played by grown men who have become unbelievably wealthy based on the talent for which they were blessed.
Some may argue that the NFL is a religion unto itself with more parishioners than most churches, but that is another argument altogether.
At least the league's king of drops, Braylon Edwards, had the common courtesy to lay the blame where it rightly belonged - at the feet of the fans who apparently ridiculed him because he played for a university they supposedly despised. Even the egotistical and oblivious Edwards did not claim God as his nemesis to explain his shortcomings.
ESPN analyst and future Hall of Fame wide receiver Chris Carter offered an inspired and more apt explanation for the drops. After Johnson's breakout performance against the Bengals, he spent the following week galavanting about the talk show circuit instead of preparing to the extent of that which he has done previously.
Johnson did take the blame for his actions.
"You go through that whole game knowing you've got a big team like the Pittsburgh Steelers and you've got this kid coming up in the NFL and making plays and all of a sudden when the biggest play needs to be made you don't make it," he said. "You feel bad."
Johnson continued, "Me? I'll never get over it. Ever. The Buffalo Bills will get over it, but I won't get over it. You're a receiver, you don't drop the ball. You go through 15 drops in the game. I won't get over it."
Clearly as an upset and shaken athlete thought more about the situation, he grew more distraught eventually culminating in the previously mentioned tweet.
Johnson then tried to backpeddle with nearly the same effectiveness as Pittsburgh's cornerback Ike Taylor covering him on the play.
"And No I Did Not Blame God People! Seriously??!?" he pleaded. "CMon! I Simply Cried Out And Asked Why? Jus Like yal did wen sumthin went wrong n ur life!
"I learned A lot Within 24hrs. Saw Both Sides.(Ups&Dwns) I AM HAPPY & THANKFUL 4 YESTERDAY! w/out Sunday iWldnt have grew closer w/The Lord!!"
The young target is wonderful up-and-coming player in the middle of a wonderful breakthrough season. He has tallied 59 receptions, 796 yards, and nine touchdowns.
Yet it may be a single pass which fell harmlessly to the ground that may mar his entire 2010/2011 season.
At 24 years of age, Johnson must remind himself it will likely be an afterthought once his promising career is eventually played to its end. His journey to redemption will begin anew Sunday at Minnesota. It is the first step to get past this theological mess.
Right now he would be best served to listen to the words of a teammate.
"Stevie is a very emotional guy so I think right now he's caught up in the emotion of what has happened," Lee Evans commented.
"I'd like to think that after everything is said and done he gets a chance to look back on it and grow from it.
"If he doesn't it'll be tough on him, but I think he will. Right now I know it's hard for him."
Or maybe listen to man above who Johnson so nonchalantly scorned.
"Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." - Psalm 37:3-4 0
But what do I know? I have a sign hanging in my kitchen which reads, "God so loved us, he gave us football."
(Sobleski, a Cadiz resident, is a sports writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)