Stevie Johnson will bring the energy to Highmark Stadium as the Legend of the Game Sunday night when the Bills welcome the Green Bay Packers for a primetime matchup.
"I feel like a player, but a fan too," Johnson said. "That whole feeling of preparing for a game and preparing for those moments is the same with this, being the Legend of the Game. It's huge to introduce the team and be around that atmosphere again. It's intense, it's fun, it's the thrill of it, and that's what I love about it."
Johnson was drafted by the Bills in 2008 and spent six seasons in Buffalo before continuing his NFL career with the San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers. As a Bill, Johnson had 301 receptions for 3,832 yards in 76 games.
There are so many memories that stand out to Johnson from his time in Buffalo, with beating the New England Patriots landing at the top of that list. But whether his team was winning or losing, something the wide receiver will never forget is the love and support he received from Bills Mafia.
"I'm thankful for the Buffalo community because I had ups and downs, but that community and that fan base continued to give us peace of mind, support, and love," Johnson said. "Now when I think back on my time there, me as an athlete, I'm always thinking about those bad plays. However, the fans got my family to think about all the good times with love and support."
Since hanging up the cleats, Johnson now spends his time with his family or mentoring children through the ClubHBHF Exposure Academy, a mentoring program for athletes to learn lessons on and off the field.
"I'm heavy into everything that I'm doing now which is family-related, I just tie it into business as far as training too," Johnson said. "Really just trying to expand positivity, continue to create, and create with others. Overall, just continuing to create with the platform that I have."
Bills Mafia is a fan base near and dear to Johnson's heart, and he's looking forward to seeing what they bring to Highmark Stadium under the lights. He's just as excited to see the 2022 Bills, a team that he thinks has all the pieces to the puzzle that's needed to win, in action. He shared that when he tunes into Bills games, he can't wait to see what big play Stefon Diggs, Josh Allen, Gabe Davis, and the Bills defense are going to come up with - and he's hoping for some more of those against the Packers.
"My excitement mainly on Sundays comes from just knowing that there's going to be something cool happening," Johnson said. "For instance, Josh Allen jumping over defenders, because that's the norm now. You rarely got to see that happen back when I was playing, which wasn't super long ago. But now you've seen it dang near every other week."
The following Legends will also be in attendance on Sunday night:
- Jim Kelly
- Bruce Smith
- Aaron Williams
- Terrence McGee
- Darryl Talley
- Mike Lodish
- Jeff Nixon
- Ryan Neufeld
- John Fina
- Jordan Gay
- Adam Lingner
- John Kaiser
- Thurman Thomas
- Steve Tasker
- Eric Wood