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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Eight Minutes in Heaven: My Stevie Johnson Interview

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While many of you were stressing over classes, books, and debating whether or not to go to Opening Convo, I spent most of my first day of classes worried about something else: interviewing San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Stevie Johnson.

How did this happen, you may ask? I am co-editor for a website,, that is dedicated to the San Francisco 49ers. I get paid an extremely miniscule amount, but it is something that is fun and lets me have an excuse to follow my 49ers quite closely in the midst of a busy college life. The interview was simply given to me. Basically, my co-editor has a connection that led to him interviewing 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith over the summer. Through connections of con- nections, he got this interview and offered it to me. I accepted in a heartbeat.

Professional athletes and celebrities often do interviews tied in with promoting a product. Stevie was beginning a “Charging the NFL” promotional campaign with mophie, a phone battery case company. The spokes-person then promotes the product to various media publication while doing an interview. I was now on this media list.

You also have to understand that Stevie Johnson means more to me than simply being a 49ers receiver. He played collegiately for my favorite team, the University of Ken- tucky Wildcats, on the best team the Wildcats had built for decades. It meant a lot that he was my first interview of a professional athlete. Needless to say, I was nervous.

So on Monday, September 15, I woke up bright and early to go over the question list I had devised. Afterwards, I had my questions reviewed by a fellow student, which helped me recognize which questions were simply stupid and how my wording should be adjusted. As the interview time approached, I stared at my questions, repeating my wording and making sure I knew how to use my phone conversation recording app while waiting for the time to come for this eight-minute interview.

It finally did. I was told I would likely receive a call but, if I did not, I should phone Stevie’s agent. I did just that. By this time however, Stevie was no longer with him. Without Stevie’s number, I couldn’t phone him directly, but fortunately his agent helped me out.

Two minutes had expired. Racing against the clock, I dialed Stevie Johnson. The call eventually went through; a female answered and was absolutely confused when I asked for Stevie Johnson. I called Stevie Johnson’s agent back; he gave me another number to try, and lo and behold, my interview began-six minutes into my eight-minute time slot.

Stevie was amazing and incredibly gracious. After a few questions that he probably presumed would be asked at some point – about his offseason trade from Buffalo to San Francisco and how he enjoys being back in the Bay Area, where he was born and grew up, I realized I did not have my conversation recording app going. I got it set up quickly, but that still left about fifteen seconds of silence on the line for Stevie, who stayed on the line. I was incredibly impressed by Stevie’s graciousness, kind- ness, and respect for me, just one of the many media members to whom he was tasked with promoting mophie battery cases that day.

The interview really began to pick up steam when I asked Stevie about his time at Kentucky. Like I’m sure I will do with regard to Carleton some day, Stevie talked fondly of his time at the basketball powerhouse. Stevie said of his basketball experience there: “We had a few games in the Johnson Center. There is a reason it was called the Johnson Center: because of me! We had some cool little grudge matches with a couple of the hoops guys.”

By this time, my slot had long ended and we were still chatting up a storm. I wanted to respect his time commitments, and did not wish to take more than eight minutes out of his busy schedule. Thus, after about eight minutes, I thanked Stevie for the conversation and wound it down.

I spent the rest of the evening transcrib- ing the interview and editing its layout before publishing it Tuesday morning. I then had to edit and re-edit as a couple of things needed to be clarified and were brought to my attention. It took a good chunk of my time, but boy was it worth it!

It was a privilege interviewing an NFL player, but even more importantly, I am blessed to have had a conversation with an incredible individual who treated me so well, despite the unorthodox start and confusion heading into our conversation. NFL players are people, too, and Stevie Johnson, number 13 for the 49ers, sure is a great one.

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