Steelers WR Diontae Johnson skips out on his own youth football camp
By Tommy Jaggi
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson was not in attendance for his own football camp. Here’s why it’s a bad look for the budding star.
Typically, when players are making headlines this time of year, it’s not for the right reasons. Just before the Pittsburgh Steelers were about to hold their 2022 organized team activities (OTAs), Diontae Johnson was set to host his youth football camp in Pittsburgh.
The camp was open to boys and girls ages 6-16. Sadly, parents didn’t exactly get what they paid for. Johnson was a no-show to his own camp. Here’s what Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had to say:
"Those in attendance say the company organizing the camp, FlexWork Sports Management, told them [Diontae] Johnson had a flight scheduled for Sunday morning that was delayed. A representative of Johnson’s said Monday that his travel was delayed by weather and that they plan to make it up to the kids with a free event sometime between now and when the Steelers begin training camp."
Batko goes on to report that the cost of attendance for this camp was $125 per child and there were even pricier packages that parents paid for. He also heard through the grapevine that some parents bought tickets to Johnson’s camp as Christmas presents for their children.
With Johnson’s flight reportedly being delayed, I don’t want to be too quick to cast a judgment. However, I think it’s safe to say that this is a pretty bad look for Diontae Johnson.
Steelers receiver needs to repair reputation
Batko reported that the camp went on as scheduled without Johnson. Fortunately, however, Johnson’s party doesn’t appear to be content leaving it at that, as they plan to set up a free event for all attendees prior to Steelers training camp.
This is good, as Johnson needs to repair his reputation in a hurry. Diontae certainly doesn’t have a laundry list of character issues the team is dealing with on the side, and this incident seemed out of the norm. As I said, this very well may have been an incident beyond his control.
Johnson has quickly become a fan favorite to many thanks to his consistent playmaking ability on offense. Last year, Johnson was Ben Roethlisberger’s most reliable target in the passing game and he put up an impressive stat line of 107 receptions, 1,161 receiving yards, and 8 touchdowns, according to Pro Football Reference.
The Steelers top wide receiver is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and it’s unclear what the team will decide to do with him following the 2022 season. The franchise tag is always an option (as is a long-term deal), however, an extension is starting to look less likely at this point — especially after Pittsburgh drafted two receivers in the first four rounds of the NFL Draft this year.
In the slow part of the NFL offseason, Johnson’s absence from his youth football camp isn’t something to make a big deal out of, but I do feel for those kids who were excited to see Diontae in person. Let’s hope he makes it up to them soon.