Brad Johnson is having fun as a trick-shot artist.
The former Florida State and NFL quarterback is attracting attention on the internet for his array of trick shots and throws with a basketball and football.
Johnson may have earned four football and two basketball letters for the Seminoles (1987-91) and directed the Tampa Bay Bucs to their first Super Bowl 18 years ago.
But his highlight reel now features a “DOINK Challenge.”
Johnson’s 70-plus short videos usually end with “Big Bad Brad 14” — his username online — bending towards the camera, grinning and either pumping his fist or flashing the “Big Bad Brad 14” hat given to him following his Super Bowl win.
“I am trying to be creative with it, creating different shots nobody has seen before,” said Johnson, 53, who lives in Athens, Georgia. “When that last shot goes in, it’s pure joy, pure excitement, pure fun. It’s skill, but a little luck, too.
“I am just having a good time with it.”
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Brad Johnson discovered TikTok during the pandemic
It was during the pandemic lockdown last year when Johnson discovered social media platform TikTok. Since he wasn’t invited by his family to appear on its dance videos, Johnson learned how to edit and post videos online of his career at FSU and 15 seasons in the NFL.
Further bored — “All we were doing was working out, eating and watching Netflix,” Johnson said — he ventured into creating quirky trick shots.
And these aren’t one-shot deals in real time on football fields or basketball courts.
“Mine have to be in sequence, three or four consecutive shots,” Johnson said. “Some of the videos take five minutes to film, and others have taken four days.”
Found on TikTok, Twitter and Instagram, many of Johnson’s videos are accompanied with background music and have been viewed by thousands. He’s even named his trick shots, from ‘Corner Pocket/2nd Pole Doink’ to ‘Just 2 Easy’ to ‘Money’ to ‘Loopy Lou.’
Johnson’s popular trick shots have spun into trick-shot challenges and benefited charity. Any money raised from “Big Bad Brad 14” merchandise is donated by Johnson to “Beyond All Borders” in Asheville, North Carolina.
Some of Brad Johnson’s trick shot videos don’t go as planned
Of course, not all of Johnson’s sessions have gone as planned. There have been camera malfunctions, dead cell phone batteries and futile shots.
There also was the time Johnson spun a basketball on his right index finger and held a sports drink in his left hand. He maneuvered the spinning ball underneath his right arm, then back up and in front of him. Johnson placed the sports drink on top of the ball as he bounced the ball off the concrete tile.
The sports drink bounced and flew over the railing — from the fifth-floor of a beach hotel — as Johnson whiffed to catch it with his left hand.
“Whew, thankfully, it didn’t hit anyone,” Johnson said. “The first time I tried the trick I used a soft drink. And it bounced off the wall and spewed everywhere.”
There was also the time when Johnson’s wife Nikki and football sons Max and Jake joined him on a “DOINK Challenge” — throwing a football off the goal post’s uprights and crossbar in sequence from 5 yards away. (Johnson completed the three-shot sequence from the 20-yard line earlier this week. The diameter of an upright is 4 to 6.5 inches).
Also keep in mind the Johnson family has athletic bloodlines.
Nikki — the younger sister of former Georgia coach and FSU offensive coordinator Mark Richt — played collegiate volleyball; and sons Max and Jake will play football at Texas A&M for coach Jimbo Fisher next season. Max was LSU’s starting quarterback this season but entered the transfer portal.
“You think that would be easy — 5 yards, right? But we had footballs everywhere, all over the field. Everyone was yelling at each other before we finally pulled it off. But it was a family disaster,” Johnson said and laughed.
Johnson opens most videos with “Big Bad Brad here, back by popular demand.” One of his favorite trick shots was his “Corner Pocket/2nd Pole Doink” when, standing in the end zone corner, he hit the back upright (around 80 feet away) on five consecutive football throws.
“I got hot. My goal was to hit three straight,” Johnson said. “I have the free time to do these. They are fun. It’s also exercise for me. And if I can give somebody 30 seconds or so of humor in today’s world, that’s good, too.
“Plus, I know how fricking hard these shots are to make.”
Reach Jim Henry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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