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Keyshawn retires

Posted by Doug on May 24, 2007

I'm not convinced this is for real, but Keyshawn Johnson has decided that, at least for now, he'd rather work for ESPN than for the Tennessee Titans.

Whether he's actually going to retire or not, we've got nothing better to do right now than to examine Keyshawn's place in modern history. According to my current favorite wide receiver ranking system, which I describe in gruesome detail here, Keyshawn ranks 36th among all receivers whose careers started in 1970 or later. His score of 2932 can be roughly interpreted to mean that he was worth about 2932 yards more than a replacement level receiver during the course of his career.

Here's the list, I'll make a few observations afterward.

 1.  Jerry Rice           13629
 2. *Marvin Harrison       7750
 3.  Steve Largent         6996
 4. *Torry Holt            6045
 5.  Cris Carter           5901
 6.  James Lofton          5774
 7.  Tim Brown             5625
 8. *Randy Moss            5388
 9. *Isaac Bruce           5362
10.  Michael Irvin         5327
11. *Terrell Owens         5253
12.  Jimmy Smith           5126
13.  Sterling Sharpe       4913
14. *Rod Smith             4649
15.  Gary Clark            4544
16.  Art Monk              4441
17.  Henry Ellard          4400
18.  Herman Moore          4232
19.  Andre Reed            4159
20.  Mark Clayton          4148
21.  Wes Chandler          4135
22.  Harold Carmichael     3982
23.  Andre Rison           3878
24.  Cliff Branch          3819
25. *Chad Johnson          3818
26.  Drew Hill             3582
27.  Mike Quick            3450
28.  Roy Green             3441
29.  Dwight Clark          3401
30. *Joe Horn              3313
31.  Cris Collinsworth     3296
32.  John Stallworth       3254
33.  Anthony Miller        3052
34. *Keenan McCardell      3047
35. *Hines Ward            3021
36. *Keyshawn Johnson      2932
37.  Mark Duper            2926
38. *Eric Moulds           2922
39.  Irving Fryar          2875
40.  Drew Pearson          2859
41.  Stanley Morgan        2808
42. *Derrick Mason         2778
43.  Steve Watson          2679
44.  Tony Hill             2643
45.  Wesley Walker         2635
46.  Carlos Carson         2635
47.  Ernest Givins         2601
48. *Muhsin Muhammad       2582
49.  Eric Martin           2543
50.  John Jefferson        2543
51. *Joey Galloway         2513

* - active in 2006

At least theoretically, this system does account for the changing season lengths and the changing conditions of the game from 1970 to now, so it is not one of those lists (e.g. any list of career totals) where you have to mentally adjust the current players downward.

It does not account for team situation. So you do need to mentally tweak down the guys who played in high-powered passing offenses with great quarterbacks (and tweak up Joey Galloway, of course!)

Keyshawn was the best receiver on his team for the vast majority of his career, and that counts as a positive as far as I'm concerned. He is also reputed to be one of the best blockers in the league. All things considered, I'd say that my system slightly underrates him if anything. He's a couple of ticks below the guys with arguable Hall of Fame cases --- e.g. Andre Reed, Art Monk, Cliff Branch --- but he certainly has had a career to be proud of.

In terms of quality, that's where he stands. But I also think it's worthwhile to capture the flavor of his career by finding players who not only had similar totals to Keyshawn, but also distributed it similarly. For example, the system says that Keyshawn's career value was very close to Mark Duper's. But the shapes of their careers were very different. Duper had three seasons much better than Johnson's best, whereas Keyshawn had 10 productive seasons to Duper's seven.

To compile a list of guys whose careers look roughly similar to Johnson's, I started by lining up Keyshawn's seasons from best to worst, like this:

Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86

Then I ordered everyone else's seasons from best to worst and compared the lines to each other. I simply totaled the absolute differences from each score, and then found the receivers that had the lowest total absolute difference. This should yield a list of players with profiles similar to Johnson: lots of productive seasons, but no truly outstanding ones.

According to this, Keyshawn is pretty comparable to guys like Tony Hill, Stanley Morgan, and Irving Fryar, which seems pretty reasonable to me. You can view him as a rich man's Ernest Givins or Eric Martin, or a poor man's John Stallworth or Andre Reed.

Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86
Tony Hill             2643 |   456  384  363  290  255  232  104    8

Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86
Ernest Givins         2601 |   421  367  359  329  303  231   33


Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86
Irving Fryar          2875 |   615  568  346  272  207  135  105

Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86
Eric Martin           2543 |   493  487  325  261  229   84

Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86
Ahmad Rashad          2111 |   490  373  276  246  162


Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86
Joey Galloway         2513 |   412  390  333  325  161  116

Keenan McCardell      3047 |   595  458  425  358  332  115   88
Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86

Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86
Sammy White           2239 |   489  329  278  241  189


Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86
Terry Glenn           1874 |   438  407  310  237   24

Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86
Amani Toomer          2081 |   442  379  347  253   17

Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86
Stanley Morgan        2808 |   393  382  278  264  200  150   72


John Stallworth       3254 |   513  491  350  342  266  261
Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86

Andre Reed            4159 |   768  565  439  364  340  302  232  145   80   77    8
Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86

Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86
Brian Blades          1788 |   441  337  299  254


Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86
Derrick Mason         2778 |   605  456  389  283  144   37

Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86
Anthony Carter        2149 |   455  418  370  101   95

Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86
Pat Tilley            1686 |   376  277  226  181  149   88    5


Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86
Mel Gray              1891 |   544  387  186  184   13

Harold Carmichael     3982 |   637  606  426  348  293  184  168  130
Keyshawn Johnson      2932 |   492  418  334  277  222  207  202  149   86

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 24th, 2007 at 4:04 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.