Steelers' Diontae Johnson Being Sued for No-Show at Youth Football Camp

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 10, 2022

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 03: Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18) looks on during the game against the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers on January 03, 2022 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Diontae Johnson (Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson faces a civil lawsuit from FlexWork Sports Management LLC, which says it suffered thousands of dollars in losses after Johnson failed to show up for a youth football camp in May.

Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Tuesday details in the lawsuit show Maxx Lepselter, Johnson's agent, texted camp organizers just 13 minutes before the camp was scheduled to open, saying the wideout's flight was canceled.

Johnson was then scheduled to show up later in the day, but decided he didn't want to wait for another flight and left the airport, according to the lawsuit.

FlexWork said it has refunded over $36,000 to families who had campers attend, and spent another $10,000 on various expenses related to hosting the camp at George K. Cupples Stadium in Pittsburgh.

"As a result of Johnson's breach, FlexWork has suffered and continues to suffer damages in an amount to be determined at trial, plus interest, costs, disbursements and attorneys' fees," the lawsuit states.

Tickets for the event featured a $125 admission fee, with additional costs linked to further interactions with Johnson, per Mackey. Campers were promised a "team photo" with the Steelers star along with items from sponsors.

The contract included a clause that Johnson pay a $2,250 cancellation fee if he backed out of the event after April 5. It's unclear whether that money was paid, but the company is seeking repayment of all camp costs along with money for "reputational damage," per Mackey.

Brandon Murphy, a local youth football coach, told Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette following the event that some of the kids were "devastated" when they found out Johnson wasn't going to attend.

"You could tell they were just as disgusted as the parents, if not more," Murphy said of camp organizers.

Johnson hasn't publicly commented on the no-show.

The 26-year-old Florida native earned his first Pro Bowl selection in 2021 after tallying 107 catches for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns in 16 games during his third season with the Steelers.

Johnson signed a two-year, $36.7 million contract extension with Pittsburgh last week following a training camp "hold in," where he was a limited participant in practices while awaiting a new deal.

The Steelers kick off the regular season Sept. 11 when they visit the AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals.