*Miami, FL. – In the latest episode of the I AM ATHLETE (IAA) podcast, former star NFL wide receiver Andre Johnson joined the crew for a rare interview and dove into the recent controversies around his former team, the Houston Texans, in a conversation that led to a heated debate amongst the group about player empowerment in the NFL. The new episode debuts tomorrow, Monday, April 5 at 12 p.m. ET (watch HERE).
IAA podcast founder and host Brandon Marshall, along with co-hosts and former NFL stars Chad Ochocinco, Channing Crowder and “Unc” Fred Taylor, asked Johnson about a tweet sent earlier this year in which he blasted the Texans organization for “wasting” the careers of players, specifically calling out their President of Football Operations, Jack Easterby. It was national NFL news for the normally reserved Johnson to speak so bluntly on his former team while they were dealing with a trade demand from their star quarterback Deshaun Watson.
“Obviously there are serious allegations out there about Deshaun,” said Marshall, referring to the current lawsuits being filed by service workers in the health and wellness industry accusing Watson of sexual misconduct. “But we do need to let that process play out. In regard to his trade demand, when you (Johnson) said something about it, everyone picked it up, because you never talk.”
“There were things that I experienced in 12 years there that I would have spoken out about, but now, with avenues like this podcast, we have a platform to be more outspoken,” said Johnson. “I just didn’t want to see Deshaun go through what I went through with the organization. He’s a tremendous talent and I didn’t want his career to be wasted. Since Jack Easterby walked into that building, nothing good has happened in that building. The tweet was a buildup of frustration of what I had seen working as an advisor to the team. I left that job because I knew the organization wasn’t right.”
When pressed about why he felt the need to specifically call out Easterby, who broke into the NFL as a team chaplain and character coach, Johnson did not hold back.
“You have a guy who comes in, who’s a team chaplain or a character coach,” said Johnson. “And I give him credit, he’s good at that. But he doesn’t know anything about football. Why would I want to be a part of something like that? When we laced our cleats up, we were giving everything we had. Just like those guys in that locker room now. I feel like they’re getting cheated. They don’t have a guy in the right position to make decisions. I didn’t think the tweet was going to do what it did. I just felt like I needed to do what I did.”
“Hands down you’re the best offensive player the Texans have ever seen, and it’s between you and J.J. Watt for best Texans player ever,” responded Taylor. “When you speak, it’s going to hold a lot of weight. Nothing you said was wrong. It was valid and you opened a lot of eyes.”
“I think the bigger conversation is about what’s next for this organization,” said Marshall. “How do they get back on track? If I’m a player, there are teams I would not even think about because of things like this.”
Crowder jumped in to put some of the emphasis on controversial statements made by Texans owner Cal McNair, and how it’s added to the perception of the organization.
“McNair is the one who said ‘don’t let the inmates run the asylum’,” said Crowder. “There’s a bad racial tone to what’s going on there. Players now are going to look at that and say they’ll look at the other 31 teams instead.”
This discussion around Johnson speaking out about the Texans leads to a heated debate amongst the former NFL stars about players in the league and their increasing willingness to speak out against management, but also on the most important social issues of the time.
“This conversation is important because even if we had a platform like this when we were in the league, we wouldn’t have used it,” said Marshall. “Back then the mentality was ‘don’t rock the boat and don’t be a distraction’. Really the last two or three years, football players are starting to say, ‘let me show who I really am’. Times are changing.”
Ochocinco, however, disagrees with how much progress can be made with owners, “Regardless of how boisterous we are, these organizations are run by billionaires who have one bottom line at the end of the day. They want to make money. Period.”
When Crowder makes the comparison between NFL players speaking out like the NBA players are known for doing, Johnson points out the major difference in power between athletes in the different leagues.
“With the NBA, players run the league. In the NFL, owners run everything,” said Johnson. “We have guaranteed money, but the NBA has guaranteed contracts.”
Ochocinco jumps in to say that it’s the “franchise players” in the NFL who have been most vocal in speaking out against management and on social issues, “you have to have the power to pull this off.”
About I AM ATHLETE Podcast
I AM ATHLETE podcast is a thought provoking and in-depth podcast that has exploded in popularity with over 450,000 YouTube subscribers and more than 225,000 Instagram followers and was ranked one of the top new sports podcasts in 2020. The podcast offers multiple perspectives on subjects ranging from sports to controversial topics to fashion to lifestyle, covering all cultural conversations and building a platform to educate and encourage viewers to engage. Creating opportunities for conversation that change the narrative and make an impact, six-time Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall serves as a contributor and moderator, and the panel embarks on provocative conversations that redefine what it means to be an athlete. Co-hosts Fred Taylor (Former Jaguars and Patriots running back), fellow receiver and six-time Pro Bowler, Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson, and Former Dolphins linebacker, Channing Crowder, join Marshall to discuss all topics from the perspective of an African American athlete, while dining on some amazing dishes served up by Chef Nancie. These gridiron giants pull no punches and have no filter while expressing themselves on the importance of the issues and topics they cover. Each week the podcast is growing in popularity and subscribers due to the panelists frankness in sharing their thoughts and views on relevant topics covered each week.
I AM ATHLETE was created by House 3 Studios, owned and operated by Marshall, and in partnership with Emmy Award Winning production company Lobas Productions and Jersey Filmmaker to story and edit the weekly series. Fans can subscribe to the I AM ATHLETE podcast: YouTube https://bit.ly/2FVTeu8 and watch a new episode premiere every Monday at 12 Noon ET.
During the premiere of each episode, live chat with the I AM ATHLETE crew while you listen. Fans can also follow Twitter at @IAMATHLETEpod and IG @iamathletepodcast for updates and breaking news.