WASHINGTON – Eddie Johnson met the media at RFK Stadium on Tuesday morning, his first chance to address the controversy that’s cropped up since the forward took to Twitter to respond to a handful of critical fans.
Johnson’s tweets early Sunday morning after D.C. United’s 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Real Salt Lake drew the ire of many United fans. Two of them in particular – a response to one fan where Johnson claimed he was “not here to please your town” and another where he seemed to imply that some United fans “have no soccer brains” – ignited a frenzy of discussion on social media about EJ’s professionalism. He later apologized on Twitter.
To all the @dcunited fans I apologize for my comments made after the Game Hope we can all move forward and focus on the rest of the season!— Eddie Johnson (@eddie_johnson7) August 11, 2014
On Tuesday, following a meeting with head coach Ben Olsen that Johnson said "went well," he seemed contrite and introspective, reflecting on his actions.
"There were some things that happened after the game,” Johnson reflected, "and it’s something that I wanted to clarify – as far as me being here and being happy here, and [I want to thank] Ben Olsen and our GM Dave Kasper for sacrificing what they did and investing so much in bringing me here to be a part of the good things we have going on here.
“After games, especially after two losses for us where we had so much to gain as far as team goals and being in the race for the Supporters’ Shield, dropping three points against Houston and dropping three points against Salt Lake, a lot of emotions are going on and sometimes you don’t think before you react. “
Johnson has never shied away from controversy, and in the past few years has rapidly become one of the most polarizing figures in the league. The former Seattle Sounder has at times seemed eager to respond to critics on social media, including a dust-up with former USMNT teammate Brian Ching in recent weeks, a far cry from the more managed approach many athletes take.
EJ suggested after training on Tuesday that much of that can be attributed to his early life.
"I had a couple of incidents, too, in Seattle," he said. "I’m a really emotional person – I’ve always been like that growing up, I’ve always felt like this is something I’ve got to get better at. I’ve always tried to defend myself – growing up where I grew up with no older brother you always have to take up for yourself. It was something that was bad timing – there’s no excuses for it.”
Asked whether he channels the negativity sometimes hurled his way on social media toward performing well on the field, Johnson reflected on the sometimes inhuman nature of Twitter itself, a medium that allows users to interact with complete strangers or celebrities who they often don’t know in real life.
"At the end of the day, we’re all human beings. You remember the difficult times and the good times as well," Johnson said. "You never want to buy into either/or – at the end of the day we all have feelings. Being too emotional – which I am – it’s something I have to get better at.
"I don’t want that to take away from what we have going on here. We’re in a great position. A lot of things are said over social media, but [those people] don’t know the type of person I am and what my teammates see in a week-in, week-out basis, what my coach sees, what my GM sees.”
As for his future on social media? According to Johnson, those who enjoy the sometimes colorful nature of the forward’s Twitter feed may have to wait a while for his next post.
"I think I banned myself [from social media], man,” he quipped.