By Lee Hubbard
Stevie Johnson had a serious look on his face as he sat in the locker room.
The Buffalo Bills receiver had just finished playing in a game where his team was dismantled by the San Francisco 49ers, 45-3, as the Bills fell to 2 wins and 3 losses in the NFL season.
“I am feeling terrible,” said Johnson. “You don’t practice that hard to lose how we did.”
The Bills lost two straight in blowouts at the hands of the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers.
Though he wasn’t in a good mood, at the same time he was glad to be home.
A San Francisco native from Bay View Hunters Point, he was playing at Candlestick Park for the first time as a professional just blocks up the street from where he was raised.
“It is good to be back home, playing in front of my family and friends,” said Johnson, who is in his 5th season with the Bills. “I grew up not too far from here. I went to E.R. Taylor Elementary, and I was a 49er fan and went to a few games.”
Johnson believes the Bills are an up and coming team despite the losses in back-to-back weeks.
“Nobody gave up in this game,” said Johnson. “The 49ers are an excellent team, and they were 1 or 2 plays from the Super Bowl last year. We have to get better.”
Johnson football career is a tribute to hard work and doing what was needed to succeed in athletics. In high school, he attended Rodriguez High School only playing football his junior and senior years, as the school did not have a football program his first two years there.
He was All-State and first-team All-Conference, but he was not recruited heavily, so he decided to go the community college route.
After starting at Chabot Community College, he was recruited by the University of Kentucky. But in the heavily competitive South Eastern Conference, he didn’t play that much his junior year.
He caught 12 catches for 159 yards and 1 touchdown, but he had a breakout moment against Clemson in the Music City Bowl catching three balls for 67 yards.
During his senior season in 2007, he had a breakout season, catching 61 catches for over a thousand yards and 13 touchdowns, including three game winning scores. His play caught the attention of NFL scouts and was selected in the seventh round of the 2007 draft by the Bills.
He played sporadically in the 2008 and 2009 seasons. He rarely played due to an injury. But in the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Johnson back-to-back thousand yard seasons, becoming the face of the Bills franchise.
In the off-season, he signed a 5-year, $36 million contract, solidifying his future with the Bills franchise.
Johnson also has interests besides football. The first cousin of San Francisco rapper Ya Boy and the stepson of rap producer Herm Lewis, he has music in his veins. He is an aspiring rapper who released the mix-tape “Why so serious,” under the name SJ13, which is his Bills jersey number.
But he knows football is his ticket.
“We have to get ready for the Cardinals in Phoenix next weekend,” Johnson said. “We have to get back to work and get better as a team.”