LeShon Johnson’s name is all over the record books for Northern Illinois. The former Huskie (1992-93), Green Bay Packer (1994-95), Arizona Cardinal (1995-97) and New York Giant (1999) is the No. 6 rusher all-time for the Huskies with 3,314 rushing yards and holds the season-season rushing record for NIU with 1,976 yards in 1993, which also led the nation that season.Before Saturday’s game, the Daily Chronicle’s John Sahly caught up with Johnson.
So what brings you back to NIU this weekend?
Actually I came back to do an art show, so I could get my degree [in art] and at the same time I get to watch some good football. It’s homecoming and I can see a lot of my old teammates.
Do you have anything on display at the show?
They’re going to put it up on Monday. I won’t be here but they’ll put it up Monday. Hopefully everything works out and I can get my degree.
How many pieces do you have in the show?
I have eight pieces. It’s crazy. After retiring from football I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. And I think I want to get into coaching so I was like ‘I’ve got to go back and get my degree until I start coaching.’
So are you going to be coaching and doing art?
No I’ll be doing coaching. I love art, don’t get me wrong, but you don’t make any money in art until you pass away, you know? I love art, but I like coaching a lot too and helping other kids. I can bring a lot to the table. I’ve been there. I’ve done that and I would love to share my experience with kids and tell them what I know.
Are you thinking of coaching at the college level or the high school level?
Whoever someone will take me, even if I have to crawl before I walk and start at the high school level. Eventually I would like to get up to the college level and take it from there.
Going back to the art, what are some of the pieces you have in the show?
I’m into Western art. I’ve got a couple of cowboy pictures, a couple of indian pictures, a couple of horses. I think they’re good but it’s not up to me to decide. I don’t know if it’s enough to get my degree or not but I really like a couple of the pieces. I think they’re good.
What inspires you to do some of those pieces?
I’ve always been fascinated with Westerns. Everywhere I go, when I see art, I stop to look and a lot of people who don’t know I’m an artist always go ‘Why are you so into that picture?’ I don’t know. Living in in Oklahoma, growing up in a country atmosphere, I love western artwork.
Do you follow Northern [Illinois] a lot?
Yes, I do. I turn on SportsCenter. I’m watching the scoreboard and I always get excited when we win. I haven’t been here in six years, since 2003, I said then the next time I go back I’ve got to get some Northern Illinois clothes. I came here and I spent like $400 on sweatshirts and I’ve got some stuff that says NIU now.
Taking a look around at Huskie Stadium and how it’s changed since you played here, what goes through your mind?
It’s beautiful. I knew it was going to look good but I didn’t know it was going to look like this. I’ve been in a lot of college stadiums, I’ve been in a lot of pro stadiums and I’ve never seen a building as good as what I’ve seen today at Northern.