Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Johnson Could Use Lessons in Humility

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Johnson Could Use Lessons in Humility

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Michael Johnson wants it all. Not just the

unprecedented track and field double of being the only man to

win the Olympic 200 and 400 meters, but the world's undivided

adulation as well.

Beneath his calm, business-like deportment lies a man who,

mystifyingly, seems rather eager to push 35-year-old Carl Lewis

off center stage. When King Carl made history Monday night by

winning a fourth consecutive Summer Games gold medal in the long

jump -- shoving Johnson's Olympic-record 400-meter victory down

to global second billing -- the hot new star didn't exactly

strike up the band afterward over a legendary compatriot's

monumental coup.

Johnson, 28, gunning for a sweep tonight in the 200, did a poor

job of pretending not to be annoyed when Lewis' name came up.

"I'm not in any competition with Carl Lewis as the premier

athlete in track and field," said Johnson. "My objective is not

to replace Carl Lewis."

The statement, dripping with insincerity, came from the same

man who, when asked earlier about Lewis' position at the top of

his sport, matter of factly stated that he should "step down

from there."

It was the worst talk-show performance since Chevy Chase tried

to crash the late-night scene. Johnson was coyly arrogant,

disrespectful of his elder and about two meters short of a world

record for rudeness.

This was the crowning moment of Lewis' splendid career, and

Johnson behaved like a child who was bummed about having to

share his candy.

"Michael Johnson needs to realize that there's no sole star in

track and field," said Lewis. "I don't know what it is that I'm

supposed to be relinquishing."

Most of all, what Johnson needs to remember is who's responsible

for his $1 million-plus annual income, the five-figure paychecks

he commands at every European meet, his $81,000 Acura NSX, his

condominium in North Dallas and his Texas house on Lake Ray

Hubbard. Carl Lewis, that's who.

It was Lewis who opened the money chest for American track stars

like Johnson. He became a millionaire not just by doing the

Jesse Owens fourpack at the 1984 Games, but by promoting himself

and taking advantage of the changing nuances in sports marketing. …

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