Weirdly, even more than football, this restaurant may be the truest manifestation of his character. Food and beverage management is something for which he has no formal training, but he had always wanted to own a restaurant, so he simply willed himself to master it.
During the football season he checks in with his boyhood pal Skeats Spalding (one of Reign's managers) by phone two or three times a day—turnover, receipts, breakage. Off-season, if you don't see him out front, stick your head in the kitchen; he's probably showing his dishwashers the most efficient way to scrape a plate.
But the restaurant business is cutthroat, and the common wisdom is that you either make a million or lose a million. There's nothing in between. "I've never failed at anything, and I don't expect to fail at this," Keyshawn says. Making sportswriters with expense accounts pay for their own dinners is a thrifty step in the right direction. [Note to editor: Receipt to follow under separate cover.]
If for some reason keeping wolfish reporters from running a tab isn't sufficient for success and the restaurant doesn't make it, don't worry. He can always lease the space. He owns the building too.
This is how he works: Under a sky as high and hot as scalded milk, Keyshawn is running patterns on a practice field at Hofstra University, catching long, elegant passes.
He comes off the line of scrimmage like Walter Brennan. For the first three steps he's all crotchet and fuss and pistoning forearms, his big feet flapping. Then on the fourth step his feet are under him again, so he unfolds himself and he's daddy longlegs now, football fast, going, pumping—he plants one of those size-13 shoes, cutting, fakes, fakes again with a shake of the head that seems like an angry denial, pumping, going. Part of him is headed upfield now, and the other part isn't. You can see him from every angle at once, a cubist painting of a man running, and the ball is in the air, drilling an arc into those hands as big and soft as oven mitts.
During the worst of this un-seasonal heat wave it feels as if you're wearing clothes made out of steel wool, but Keyshawn is running flat out up the sideline, going deep, hitch and go, over and over—fast, as if he's chasing something. Or something's chasing him.
Keyshawn uses his shoulder belt nearly every time he drives. His favorite color is blue. He listens to Tupac. He is a "shining star" in a flashlight world. He often refers to himself as "Number 19." He has been known to use the phrase "hunky-dory" in conversation.
During the season Keyshawn and Shikiri and their children live on Long Island in a town house. Nothing palatial, just normal; the neighbors rag him if he leaves the lids off his garbage cans on trash day. This is a seasonal home—they're Californians to the marrow—so the place has a look of impermanence. Nice furniture, but not a lot of it; low knickknack count. A television downstairs the size of a JumboTron, though, and plenty of Pokémon videos. With kids, you don't have to worry much about decorating anyway; they'll take care of it for you. Their real home, the new place they're building in Los Angeles, is almost finished. Many thousands of square feet to decorate and accessorize. If you see young Mr. Johnson often enough at Weeb Ewbank Hall, the Jets' headquarters, he's apt to confront you with a design magazine folded to a picture of an armoire. "I like this. We're doing Mediterranean."
He formed Keyshawn, Inc. in part to organize and operate his charitable enterprises. The two most prominent among these are Key's Kids, a community outreach program for underprivileged children, and the Keyshawn Johnson Education Fund, which provides scholarships.