Back in 1996, Keyshawn Johnson made a name for himself in the NFL. Now, he's doing it as an analyst for ESPN. However, before he traded in his pads for 3-piece suites, Keyshawn rocked the adidas Key Trainer. The Key Trainer released back in 1996 and just returned to the store shelves through adidas Originals over the weekend. We had a chance to catch up with Super Bowl champ and Pro-Bowler in Los Angeles. Peep the Q&A below and check out KeyShawn's rookie year memories in 5 Things Keyshawn Johnson Did in the Adidas Key Trainers Back in '96.
Interview by Jacques Slade (@kustoo)
Do you ever get any feedback from the players about your comments on the air?
No. Not really. They don’t really pay attention to that. I mean, they do, but most of the time when comments come from someone like me, its probably on point anyway. I’m not like throwing stuff against the wall to make it stick. That's when you get pissed off as a player. But as an analyst, when you say the right things that are truthful, people don’t even trip.
How did you view analysts when you were playing?
It was there job. Some of them had no clue about what was going on and they would just say shit. So I just took it with a grain of salt and kept it pushing.
Lets switch to the adidas Key Trainer. How did your deal with adidas first come about?
Well, I was the number one [draft] pick overall. When I came out of college, shoe companies can identify marketable people, and I think I was identified as someone who could potentially move some units and merchandise. They approached me, like a number of other shoe companies and we negotiated with them and a number of other shoe brands. In the end, what we wanted and our vision synced with adidas, and that was it. Having my own signature shoe was part of it, my own signature clothing line as well. I was the first athlete, from a training standpoint, with adidas to have their own signature shoe.
Only a handful of professional football athletes have had a signature shoe, unlike in basketball where there have been a number of guys. I wanted to create a shoe that you could actually wear with normal clothes and feel good about, as opposed to football players that always wear cleats.
Do you have any memories of the design process?
It took us about 5-6 months to create the shoe the way we wanted it to be. It was a long tedious process. Logo, color, materials, all those things. Even the height. adidas had the technology, but we didn’t have the design at all. We started from scratch. We did it from start to finish.
Do you remember the combines?
I do. I think I was the only person there with all adidas on. I signed with them before I was drafted. Everybody was looking at me cause I had my own thing going.
Who came up with the Key Hang tag?
We all worked on it together. The key is a silhouette of my face. You can see my lips, my nose, my forehead. It is a side profile.
How do you feel about the Key Trainer coming back?
I think it's cool. I have some new colorways coming out. I am excited to see people really dive in and see what it is all about. What it meant. What it means to have your own shoe. There are not a lot of athletes that are going to get their own shoe.
How was your relationship with Kobe?
It was great. Even to this day we are good.
I know you both signed with adidas at the same time, did either of you influence the others decision to sign with the company?
No. I think they were going after me in football, and after him in basketball.
Are there any moments during the design of the shoe that stick out to you?
Yeah. The color, its kinda, weird. See this green (points to the outsole of his shoe), back then, people were like what the hell is that? But now, any color goes. So 20 years ago, people were looking at the colors and thinking they were too bright. Now I see shoes, and the whole shoe is that color.