John Henry Johnson

John Henry Johnson (November 24, 1929 – June 3, 2011) was a gridiron football running back known for his excellence at the fullback position as both a runner and a blocker. His first professional stint was in Canada in the Western Interprovincial Football Union (WIFU) for one season with the Calgary Stampeders. He then played in the National Football League (NFL) for the San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, and Pittsburgh Steelers before spending his final season in the American Football League (AFL) with the Houston Oilers. Commonly referred to as simply John Henry, an allusion to the folk hero of the same name,[1] Johnson was a tough and tenacious player who performed at a high level well into the tail end of his career.

After playing college football for St. Mary's College of California and Arizona State, Johnson was selected in the second round of the 1953 NFL Draft by the Steelers, the 18th overall pick. He instead played one season of Canadian football for the Stampeders, in which he won the Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy as the league's most valuable player. He then signed with the 49ers, and played left halfback in San Francisco's famed "Million Dollar Backfield". He was traded to Detroit in 1957, and became the team's leading rusher en route to that year's NFL championship, their most recent.

His abilities seemingly in decline, Johnson was traded to Pittsburgh in 1960, where he had the most productive years of his career, recording two 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He remains the oldest player to record a 1,000-yard rushing season as well as the oldest to rush for 200 or more yards in a game, each at age 34. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Johnson ranked third on the NFL's all-time rushing yards list when he retired, but was best remembered by his peers for the mark he left with his blocking. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

John Henry Johnson
refer to caption
c. 1955
No. 35
Position:Fullback, halfback
Personal information
Born:November 24, 1929
Waterproof, Louisiana
Died:June 3, 2011 (aged 81)
Tracy, California
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High school:Pittsburg (CA)
College:Arizona State
St. Mary's (CA)
NFL Draft:1953 / Round: 2 / Pick: 18
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career professional statistics
Rushing yards:6,803
Yards per carry:4.3
Rushing touchdowns:48
Player stats at

Early years

Johnson was born in northeastern Louisiana, at Waterproof in southern Tensas Parish. He played high school football in northern California at Pittsburg High School, and college football at Saint Mary's College of California in Moraga before transferring to Arizona State College in Tempe.[2][3] While at Saint Mary's, sportswriters deemed Johnson "one of the fleetest and finest players on the Pacific Coast."[4] The school dropped its football program after the 1950 season.[5][6]

As a senior at Arizona State in 1952, he played left halfback and was recognized as one of the roughest and hardest runners in the country,[7] and as one of the top defensive players as a safety.[8] He also excelled as a punt returner, and had a two-game stretch in which he returned four punts for touchdowns.[9] Johnson's running abilities made him a standout pro football prospect as a black athlete at a primarily white college.[7]

Professional career

Canadian football

Selected in the second round of the 1953 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers,[10] Johnson instead played one season in Canada with the Calgary Stampeders of the Western Interprovincial Football Union (WIFU) in 1953.[2] Johnson reasoned that Calgary had offered more money, but Steelers owner Art Rooney speculated that Johnson thought it was too cold in Pittsburgh. "He must have thought he was going to some resort up there," joked Rooney.[1] He led the Stampeders in rushing that season with 107 carries for 648 yards, an average of six yards per carry with five touchdowns. In addition, Johnson caught 33 passes for 365 yards and three more touchdowns, returned 47 punts for 386 yards, and had a 104-yard kickoff return touchdown. He also starred on defense and intercepted five passes.[11] He was awarded the Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy as the league's most valuable player.[2] Johnson was also a leading WIFU All-Star vote receiver, but because he played both offense and defense so well voters split their votes and he was left off the team's "roster".[12]

American football

San Francisco 49ers

Johnson was signed by the San Francisco 49ers in 1954 as a halfback, where he joined Hugh McElhenny, Y. A. Tittle, and Joe Perry to form the 49ers' famed "Million Dollar Backfield". That year, the 49ers shattered the team record for rushing yards in a season.[13] Johnson finished second in the league in rushing with 681 yards,[14][15] behind only Perry,[16] who picked up the majority of his 1,049 yards behind blocking from Johnson. Johnson scored nine touchdowns, which were the most for a season in his career. He was invited to his first Pro Bowl following the season, joining Tittle and Perry.[17] Johnson earned second-team All-Pro honors from United Press International (UPI) and the New York Daily News.[18]

For the remainder of his time in San Francisco, Johnson was unable to replicate the success of his rookie year, as his production dropped significantly in the following two seasons. He played in seven games in 1955 before suffering a shoulder injury against the Los Angeles Rams,[19] and finished the year with only 19 carries for 69 yards and one touchdown. He was traded to the Detroit Lions following the 1956 season in exchange for fullback Bill Bowman and defensive back Bill Stits.[20]

Detroit Lions

Lions head coach Buddy Parker saw Johnson's value as a blocker and moved him to fullback.[20] In his first season with Detroit in 1957, he led the team in rushing, carrying for 621 yards and five touchdowns.[21] In the 1957 NFL Championship Game, which was won by the Lions 59–14 over the Cleveland Browns, Johnson carried seven times for 34 yards, caught a sixteen-yard pass, and recovered a fumble on defense.[22] Going into the 1958 season, the Lions looked to continue their success, and Johnson was expected to be the team's primary ball carrier.[23] However, Johnson missed several games due to injuries, and the Lions finished with a 4–7–1 record and one of the league's worst rushing offenses.[24]

In 1959, Johnson was suspended indefinitely by the Lions after he missed the team plane back to Detroit following a November 1 blowout loss to the 49ers.[25][26] To that point, the Lions had a 1–5 record, and coach George Wilson used Johnson's suspension as an opportunity to scold the whole team for its lack of "desire."[27] Johnson was ultimately fined $1,000. Wilson took the brunt of the blame for Detroit's struggles in 1958 and 1959, but he questioned the resolve of some of the team's higher-paid players, including Johnson.[28] Following the season, Johnson was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers for two draft picks. "That's all we could get for him," explained Wilson.[29]

Johnson 1961 Topps
Johnson with the Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers finally acquired Johnson in 1960, after having lost him to the CFL when they drafted him eight years prior.[10] His career rejuvenated, he had his most productive years as a pro while in Pittsburgh.[30] In his first season with the team, he rushed for 621 yards with a 5.3 yards-per-carry average, which included a career-high 87-yard score against the Philadelphia Eagles. He became the first Steelers player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season when he did so in 1962, and he repeated the feat in 1964.[21] He made three straight Pro Bowl appearances, and was a second-team All-Pro selection by the AP, UPI, and Newspaper Enterprise Association in 1962.[31] As of 2017, he remains the oldest player in NFL history to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing in a season, finishing with 1,048 in 1964, aged 35.[32] In a game that season against the Cleveland Browns, then aged 34, Johnson carried 30 times for 200 yards and scored three touchdowns, out-dueling the great Jim Brown.[33] It was only the ninth 200-yard rushing game in NFL history to that point, and the performance made him the oldest player to reach that mark, a record he still holds.[34] Johnson's effort impressed Steelers president Dan Rooney, who remarked that "he got almost all the yardage by himself."[33] Age and injuries caught up to Johnson in 1965, as he was limited to just three carries for eleven yards.[33]

Houston Oilers and retirement

After playing out his option with the Steelers, in July 1966 Johnson signed as a free agent with the Houston Oilers of the American Football League. He joined the Oilers with the hope of helping the team win an AFL championship.[35] However, the team finished the season last in the Eastern Division with a record of 3–11. Johnson retired after the season at the age of 37. He completed his NFL career having carried 1,571 times for 6,803 yards and 48 touchdowns, and picked up 1,478 yards on 186 pass receptions for seven receiving touchdowns.

Playing style

Equally proficient as both a blocker and runner, Johnson was described as "the perfect NFL fullback".[36] A talented runner, he ran with power both inside and outside the tackles, and he was as fast as McElhenny and Perry.[37] Jim Brown called Johnson the greatest running back he had ever seen.[36] He was also a very skilled safety and linebacker on defense.[1][38][39] During a preseason game in 1955, Johnson hit Chicago Cardinals halfback Charley Trippi so hard that he fractured Trippi's face in multiple places, leaving him with a smashed nose and concussion and all but ended his career.[40][41] "Football was like a combat zone," said Johnson. "I was always told that you carry the impact to the opponent. If you wait for it, the impact will be on you."[40]

Perhaps the most notable aspect of Johnson's game was his blocking abilities, for which he received heavy praise.[1] He took pride in it, saying "It gave me a chance to hit all those people who hit me all the time."[42] Quarterback Bobby Layne, a teammate of Johnson with both the Lions and Steelers, listed Johnson as one of the one of "Pro Football's 11 Meanest Men" in an article for SPORT magazine in 1964. "By 'mean,' I mean vicious, unmanageable, consistently tough," said Layne. "I don't mean dirty."[43] Layne also called Johnson his "bodyguard," saying "Half the good runners will get a passer killed if you keep them around long enough. But a quarterback hits the jackpot when he gets a combination runner-blocker like Johnson."[21]


Upon his retirement, Johnson was ranked fourth on pro football's all-time rushing yards list, behind Jim Brown, Jim Taylor, and his fellow Million Dollar Backfield teammate Perry. As of 2016, he is fourth on the Steelers franchise all-time rushing yards list, behind Franco Harris, Jerome Bettis, and Willie Parker. In 1987, he was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame,[44] and chose Steelers owner Art Rooney as his presenter.[45] Many of his contemporaries felt his induction was belated;[42][1] he had been eligible for induction for the past fifteen years.[46] The 49ers' "Million Dollar Backfield" is currently the only full-house backfield to have all four of its members enshrined in the Hall of Fame.[47] Johnson is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers Legends team, which honors the franchise's best players pre-1970.[48] He was a charter inductee to the San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame in 2009.[49]

Personal and later life

In November 1955, while on the sick list for the 49ers due to a shoulder injury, Johnson carried two women to safety out of a blazing apartment building in Oakland, California. One of the women was his pregnant wife, Barbara Johnson.[19] The couple divorced in 1959, and a bench warrant was issued for Johnson after he fell $2,360 behind on alimony payments, concurrent with his suspension from the Lions for missing the team plane.[26][25] After retiring as a player, he worked for Columbia Gas and later for Warner Communications. He had aspirations of coaching football, but the opportunity never arose.[36]

Johnson died at age 81 in 2011 in Tracy, California.[21][50] Several days later, it was announced that Johnson and his fellow Million Dollar Backfield teammate, Joe Perry, who died six weeks earlier, would have their brains examined by researchers at Boston University, who were studying head injuries in sports. Both men were suspected of suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disorder linked to repeated brain trauma. According to his daughter, Johnson could not talk or swallow in the final year of his life and also used a wheelchair. She told the San Francisco Chronicle that she hoped by donating her father's brain, it would "help with a cure."[51]


  1. ^ a b c d e Bouchette, Ed (August 7, 1987). "John Henry was a steel-drivin' man". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 17. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Sell, Jack (December 2, 1953). "Steelers lose No. 2 draft choice to Frisco team". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 20.
  3. ^ "Former Tempe football star scores in Canada". Prescott Evening Courier. Arizona. Associated Press. September 21, 1953. p. 5.
  4. ^ "Border Loop Is Nurturing Two Champs". Prescott Evening Courier. Associated Press. September 10, 1952. p. 1. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  5. ^ "Gaels abandon gridiron sport". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. January 6, 1951. p. 7.
  6. ^ "Gaels bow out of grid picture". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 7, 1951. p. 9.
  7. ^ a b McLin, E. H. (October 4, 1952). "The Sports Parade". St. Petersburg Times. p. 21. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  8. ^ "Devils Await Old Adversary". Prescott Evening Courier. Associated Press. November 28, 1952. p. 5. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  9. ^ "San Jose Wary Of Safety Ace". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Associated Press. October 1, 1952. p. 29. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  10. ^ a b Jordan, Jimmy (April 12, 1960). "Steelers finally get John Henry Johnson". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 19.
  11. ^ Stamps mourn death of John Henry Johnson. Calgary Stampeders. June 4, 2011. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
  12. ^ DeGeer, Vern (November 6, 1953). "Good Morning". The Montreal Gazette. p. 25. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
  13. ^ Tameta, Andre (May 22, 2009). "San Francisco's Million Dollar Backfield: The 49ers' Fabulous Foursome". Bleacher Report. Archived from the original on June 9, 2011. Retrieved September 23, 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  14. ^ Abrams, Al (April 14, 1960). "John Henry Could Help". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 22. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
  15. ^ Corkran, Steve (June 3, 2011). "Former 49ers star John Henry Johnson dies". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  16. ^ "1954 NFL Leaders and Leaderboards". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
  17. ^ "Lineups Named For Pro Bowl Today". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Associated Press. January 16, 1955. p. 14. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  18. ^ "1954 NFL All-Pros". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  19. ^ a b "Player Rescues 2 Women In Fire". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Associated Press. November 28, 1955. p. 2. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
  20. ^ a b Latshaw, Bob (May 15, 1957). "Lions, 49ers Swap 3 Backs". Detroit Free Press. p. 25. Archived from the original on September 28, 2016. Retrieved September 28, 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  21. ^ a b c d Goldstein, Richard (June 5, 2011). "John Henry Johnson Dies at 81; Inspired Fear on the Field". The New York Times. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
  22. ^ "Cleveland Browns at Detroit Lions - December 29th, 1957". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  23. ^ "Veteran Performers to Carry Load for Detroit Lions in 1958 Campaign". Ludington Daily News. July 7, 1958. p. 6. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  24. ^ Diles, Dave (August 11, 1959). "Johnson, Rote Are Ifs for Detroit Lions". Prescott Evening Courier. Associated Press. p. 5. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  25. ^ a b "Lions' Fullback Is Suspended". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Associated Press. November 2, 1959. p. 15. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  26. ^ a b "Double Trouble For John Henry". Toledo Blade. Associated Press. November 3, 1959. p. 21. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  27. ^ "Lions' back suspended". The Bulletin. United Press International. November 3, 1959. p. 2. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  28. ^ "Wilson Says He's Sick Of Being Fall Guy For Detroit's Pro Lions". Ocala Star-Banner. Associated Press. August 25, 1960. p. 7. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  29. ^ "John Henry Johnson Traded to Pittsburgh". Ukiah Daily Journal. United Press International. April 12, 1960. p. 2. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  30. ^ Wexell, Jim; Mendelson, Abby; Aretha, David (2014). The Steelers Experience: A Year-by-Year Chronicle of the Pittsburgh Steelers (illustrated ed.). MVP Books. p. 58. ISBN 0760345767. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  31. ^ "1962 NFL All-Pros". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  32. ^ Langager, Chad (March 3, 2015). "Best Running Back Seasons By 30+ Year Olds". Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  33. ^ a b c Smizik, Bob (September 6, 1994). "The day John Henry Johnson ran wild". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 6. Retrieved September 16, 2016.
  34. ^ "Player Game Finder Query Results". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  35. ^ "John Henry Johnson Signs Contract With Oilers". Park City Daily News. Associated Press. July 17, 1966. p. 12. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  36. ^ a b c Swauger, Kirk (October 14, 1984). "John Henry: The perfect NFL fullback". Beaver County Times. p. C2. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
  37. ^ Jacobs, Martin (2005). San Francisco 49ers (illustrated ed.). Arcadia Publishing. p. 53. ISBN 0738529664. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
  38. ^ Swauger, Kirk (October 14, 1984). "John Henry: the perfect NFL fullback". Beaver County Times. Pennsylvania. p. C2.
  39. ^ Murray, Jim (February 11, 1970). "Johnson seeks coaching job". Free Lance-Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. (Los Angeles Times). p. 13.
  40. ^ a b Wexell, Mendelson, & Aretha 2014, p. 62.
  41. ^ "Trippi Badly Hurt; Fear Career Over". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. September 16, 1955. p. 12. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  42. ^ a b Cook, Ron (June 27, 1982). "John Henry He's learned how quickly they forget". Beaver County Times. p. C3. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  43. ^ "Night Train, Jimmy Hill, John Henry are 'meanest'". Baltimore Afro-American. October 6, 1964. p. 14. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  44. ^ Melvin, Chuck (August 9, 1987). "Pro football's hall of fame inducts seven". The Day. New London, Connecticut. Associated Press. p. E5.
  45. ^ Bouchette, Ed (August 6, 1987). "Ceremonial chief". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 12.
  46. ^ Players become eligible for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame five years after their final pro season.
  47. ^ "Johnson, member of 49ers' 'Million Dollar Backfield,' dies at 81". National Football League. June 4, 2011. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  48. ^ "Steelers Announce Legends Team as Part of 75th Season Celebration Twenty-Four Honored as Best Pre-1970's Players in Club History". Pittsburgh Steelers. October 2007. Archived from the original on June 5, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  49. ^ "49ers Announce Edward DeBartolo Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame". San Francisco 49ers. May 12, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  50. ^ Schudel, Matt (June 6, 2011). "John Henry Johnson, punishing NFL fullback of 1950s and '60s, dies at 81". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  51. ^ "Researchers to study 49ers RBs". ESPN. June 9, 2011. Retrieved January 28, 2016.

Further reading

  • Sullivan, George (1972). The Great Running Backs. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. pp. 100–106. ISBN 0-399-11026-7.

External links

1953 Calgary Stampeders season

The 1953 Calgary Stampeders finished in 4th place in the W.I.F.U. with a 3–12–1 record and failed to make the playoffs.

1957 NFL Championship Game

The 1957 National Football League championship game was the 25th annual championship game, held on December 29 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Michigan.The Detroit Lions (8–4), winners of the Western Conference, hosted the Cleveland Browns (9–2–1), champions of the Eastern Conference. Detroit had won the regular season game 20–7 three weeks earlier on December 8, also at Briggs Stadium, but lost quarterback Bobby Layne with a broken right ankle late in the first half. Reserve quarterback Tobin Rote, a starter the previous year with Green Bay, filled in for Layne and won that game with Cleveland, the next week at Chicago, and the tiebreaker playoff game at San Francisco.

It was the fourth pairing of the two teams in the championship game; they met previously in 1952, 1953, and 1954. The Browns were favored by three points, but the home underdog Lions scored two touchdowns in each quarter and won in a rout, 59–14.Until 2006, this was the last time that major professional teams from Michigan and Ohio met in a postseason series or game. As of 2018, this was the last playoff game played in the city of Detroit other than Super Bowl XL in 2006. The Lions other two home playoff games since 1957 (1991 and 1993) were played at the Pontiac Silverdome in nearby Pontiac, Michigan.

1962 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team in 1962. Players from the first and second teams are listed, with players from the first team in bold, where applicable.

1978 Oakland Athletics season

The 1978 Oakland Athletics season was the team's eleventh in Oakland, California. The team sought to rebound from its first losing season in a decade (a 63-99 result in 1977). Despite low expectations, the Athletics remained competitive for nearly three-quarters of the season. Despite posting a respectable 61-56 mark through 117 games, the Athletics collapsed in the season's final weeks; their 8-37 finish ensured a second consecutive season of fewer than 70 wins.

Only one player (Billy North) remained from the team's 1974 championship season. He would be traded to the Dodgers in May.

Prior to the season, owner Charlie Finley nearly sold the team to buyers who would have moved them to Denver.

1979 Oakland Athletics season

The 1979 Oakland Athletics season involved the A's finishing 7th in the American League West with a record of 54 wins and 108 losses. Only 306,763 paying customers showed up to watch the A's in 1979, the team's worst attendance since leaving Philadelphia.

Team owner Charlie Finley nearly sold the team to buyers who would have moved them to New Orleans for 1979. Any deal to relocate fell through when the city of Oakland refused to release the A's from their lease. The city was in the midst of its battle with the Oakland Raiders over their move to Los Angeles and didn't want to lose both teams.

The Athletics' 54-108 finish remains, as of 2013, their worst (by far) since moving to Oakland in 1968. On a brighter note, the season saw the debut of Rickey Henderson. Henderson, a future Hall-of-Famer, would play for the team (in four separate stints) between 1979 and 1998.

Arizona State Sun Devils football

The Arizona State Sun Devils football team represents Arizona State University in the sport of American football. The Sun Devils team competes in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the South Division of the Pac-12 Conference (Pac-12). Arizona State University has fielded a football team since 1897. The Sun Devils are currently led by head coach Herm Edwards and play their home games at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils have won seventeen conference titles, including three Pac-12 titles.A number of successful and professional football players once played for ASU. The school has 3 unanimous All-Americans and 16 consensus selections. Among the most lauded players the school has produced are Pat Tillman, Terrell Suggs, Mike Haynes, Darren Woodson, Charley Taylor, and John Henry Johnson.

In addition to its players, ASU's football program has had several notable head coaches, including Hall of Famers Dan Devine and John Cooper and national champion Dennis Erickson. The all-time school wins leader is Hall of Fame coach Frank Kush, for whom Frank Kush Field at Sun Devil Stadium is named. Kush also consistently led the Sun Devils to victory against the Arizona Wildcats, ASU's traditional rival, losing to the Wildcats only twice between 1963 and 1979.

Bill Johnson (center)

William Levi Johnson Sr. (September 14, 1926 – January 7, 2011), known as Bill "Tiger" Johnson, was a professional football player and coach. He was born in Tyler, Texas, where he was raised by his single mother and five older siblings. Among his siblings was older brother Gilbert Johnson, who played quarterback at Southern Methodist University with the iconic running back Doak Walker. Bill was a football and baseball star for Tyler Junior College and Texas A&M University and graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University. He played center for the San Francisco 49ers from 1948 to 1956.

Although Johnson is known mostly for his accomplishments as a football player in the National Football League (NFL), Tiger had a prolific career in college as well, not only in football, but also baseball. Bill began his college football career at Tyler Junior College, a small school in Johnson's hometown of Tyler, Texas. Bill finished his collegiate career with Texas A&M University. The end of his college sports career brought about a pressing issue; was Johnson to pursue a professional career in the MLB with the Cincinnati Reds, who had offered him a minor-league contract, or test his football ability in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers, who offered Bill with a non-drafted rookie free agent contract. Bill decided to go with football, even though his true love was baseball. He was a phenomenal catcher at the collegiate level, but always stated that he would have never made it in "the bigs" due to a lack of ability in throwing out base runners when they would attempt to steal.

During his nine years in the NFL as a player, all of which were with the 49ers, Johnson blocked at the center position for what was known as the Million Dollar Backfield in San Francisco, which featured fullbacks John Henry Johnson and Joe Perry, halfback Hugh McElhenny, and quarterback Y. A. Tittle. Johnson was heralded as the star of the offensive line of the 49ers, who constantly beat teams due to their ability to control the ball and wear down opponents. Johnson earned two Pro Bowl selections, and was also voted to be an All-Pro. Bill earned the nickname of "Tiger" in his first season as a 49er. Johnson spent most of his rookie season injured, only seeing the field in five of the twelve regular season games. One game, when Bill was sidelined, his teammates began to taunt him, given that Johnson was a rookie. They were inferring through teasing him that Johnson was not truly injured, but was not tough enough to play football at the professional level. Eventually, Johnson was fed up, and retorted, "I can't wait 'til I'm back on the field - and when I come back, I'll come back fighting like a Tiger!" The nickname "Tiger" stuck forever, and his tenacity on the field was always a prime, living contributor to his nickname's legitimacy.

He was a line coach for the Cincinnati Bengals in 1976, when Paul Brown retired as the team's head coach and named Tiger as his successor. Tiger won 18 and lost 15, but resigned five games into the 1978 season after starting 0–5. After his head coaching tenure, Johnson was an assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1979 to 1982 and the Detroit Lions from 1983 to 1984. He finished his career by reuniting with the Bengals as an assistant in 1985. He retired as the Bengals tight ends coach in 1990.

He was the father of William R. Johnson, president, CEO and chairman of the H. J. Heinz Company.

Charles A. Lee

Charles Lee (born November 18, 1977) in Nashville, TN, raised in Pacoima of Los Angeles, CA was an American sprinting athlete. He was a four-time All-American short sprinter at the University of Southern California in the late nineteen-nineties. Lee, a Cleveland High School (Los Angeles, California) graduate and Los Angeles Valley College Alum is the record holder in both the 100 meters and 200 meters at both schools. Lee went on to the University of Southern California (coached by John Henry Johnson & Ron Allice) where he ranked as a top 50 sprinter in the world and earned All-American status 6 times as both a solo sprinter and relay runner throughout his college career. Lee graduated from USC in 1999. As a youth, Lee was a member of the North Valley Golden Bears Track Club and Los Angeles Jets Track Club.

Charley Scales

Charley Scales is a former professional American football player who played running back for seven seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, and Atlanta Falcons. His final season was played in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes, for which he played 13 games, gaining 370 yards on 101 carries, with 2 touchdowns.

James Yate Johnson

James Yate Johnson (1820, Kendal, Cumbria – 2 February 1900, Funchal) was an English naturalist. He was the son of John Henry Johnson and Ann Yate, also brother of John Henry Johnson (patent attorney).James who lived in Madeira from around 1851, studied marine fish, crustacea, sea anemones and sponges and terrestrial spiders, flowering plants and mosses. He collected specimens for other naturalists; for instance, George Busk, who in 1859 wrote "Zoophytology: On some Madeiran Polyzoa." Collected by J. Yates Johnson, Esq. in the Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science, vol. 7, pp. 65–67. James discovered and named Halargyreus johnsonii and Melanocetus johnsonii during his time in Madeira.

James also explored the São Vicente Caves after being informed of their existence by locals on Madeira in 1885. The caves were opened to the public on 1 of October 1996, being one of the first caves of volcanic origins to be opened to the public in Portugal.

Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy

The Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy is a trophy awarded to the Canadian Football League West Division's most outstanding player, chosen from the nominees from each team in the division. Either this trophy winner or the winner of the Terry Evanshen Trophy also receives the Canadian Football League Most Outstanding Player Award.

The Nicklin Memorial Trophy was donated to the Western Interprovincial Football Union in 1946 by the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, in memory of their commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Jeff Nicklin, who was killed in action on March 24, 1945. Jeff Nicklin was known as an outstanding defensive end for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers before he entered military service.

When first donated the trophy was awarded annually to the player in the Western Division considered to be the most valuable to his team. Since 1973, the trophy was awarded to the Most Outstanding Player of the West Division. As part of the failed American expansion in 1995, the trophy was awarded to the Most Outstanding Player of the North Division.

John Henry Johnson (baseball)

John Henry Johnson (born August 21, 1956) is a former Major League Baseball player. He was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 15th round of the 1974 amateur draft. He made his major league debut for the Oakland A's in 1978 after being acquired before the season in the trade that sent Vida Blue to the Giants.

John Henry Johnson (disambiguation)

John Henry Johnson may refer to:

John Henry Johnson (1929–2011), NFL running back

John Henry Johnson (baseball), (born 1956)

John Henry Johnson (patent attorney), (1828–1900), British

John Henry Johnson (patent attorney)

John Henry Johnson (1828 in Kendal, United Kingdom – 12 March 1900 ) was one of the first specialist patent agents in the United Kingdom and became the founding President of the Institute of Patent Agents, now the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, on its formation in 1882. He was the brother of James Yate Johnson.The UK firm of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys of Bromhead Johnson (formerly J. Y. & G. W. Johnson) traces its history back to John Henry Johnson, and his sons James Yate Johnson and George William Johnson. The Scottish firm of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys of Johnsons traces its history back to John Henry Johnson, his son James Yate Johnson, his grandson Christopher Johnson and his great grandson Edward Yate Johnson.

Mike Smithson (baseball)

Billy Mike Smithson (born January 21, 1955) is an American former professional baseball player. He was a right-handed pitcher who appeared in 240 games in the Major Leagues over eight seasons (1982–1989) for the Texas Rangers. Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox. Smithson stood 6 feet 8 inches (2.03 m) tall and weighed 215 pounds (98 kg).

After attending the University of Tennessee, Smithson was selected by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the 1976 Major League Baseball Draft. During the course of his seven-year minor league apprenticeship, he participated in the longest baseball game in history between the Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings during the 1981 season. During the early morning hours of Sunday, April 19, 1981, he worked the full 15th, 16th and 17th innings, and got two outs in the 18th inning before turning the ball over to Win Remmerswaal. Smithson allowed two hits and three bases on balls in 3​2⁄3 innings pitched—but no runs. The game was suspended after 32 innings, and resumed June 23; Smithson's PawSox won it in the bottom of the 33rd frame.

After attending spring training with the 1982 Red Sox, Smithson was traded to the Rangers on April 9 for left-handed relief pitcher John Henry Johnson. He was recalled by the Rangers from the Triple-A Denver Bears and began his MLB career late in August as a starting pitcher—the role he would play for much of his big-league tenure.

As a member of the Twins, Smithson led the American League in games started in 1984 and 1985. He won 15 games in each season. The Red Sox brought Smithson back as a free agent in 1988, and he spent two seasons with them as a swing man, making 37 starts in 71 games. Along the way, he pitched against the Oakland Athletics in the 1988 American League Championship Series, his only postseason appearance, providing 2​1⁄3 innings of scoreless relief in Game 4, which Oakland won to complete a sweep over the Red Sox.

Altogether, Smithson allowed 1,473 hits and 383 bases on balls in 1,356​1⁄3 innings of big-league work. He made 204 starts out of his 240 total games pitched, and recorded 731 strikeouts, 41 complete games, six shutouts and two saves. He retired after the 1989 campaign. In 2009, he was named to the University of Tennessee's All Century Team.

Million Dollar Backfield (San Francisco 49ers)

The Million Dollar Backfield was a National Football League (NFL) offensive backfield of the San Francisco 49ers from 1954 to 1956. Featuring quarterback Y. A. Tittle, halfbacks Hugh McElhenny and John Henry Johnson, and fullback Joe Perry, the backfield was also referred to as the "Fabulous Foursome" and "Fearsome Foursome" by sportswriters. Formed well before players earned six-figure salaries, the unit was named as such for its offensive prowess, and compiled record offensive statistics. It is regarded as one of the best backfields compiled in NFL history, and is the only full house backfield to have all four of its members enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Pittsburg High School (California)

Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, Contra Costa County, California, United States, is a suburban school serving Pittsburg. It has been in operation since 1924. Over 3,000 students attend the school. It is a part of the Pittsburg Unified School District. Pittsburg High School teaches grades 9-12.

Saint Mary's Gaels football

For information on all Saint Mary's College of California sports, see Saint Mary's GaelsThe Saint Mary's Gaels football program was the intercollegiate American football team for Saint Mary's College of California, located in Moraga, California, east of Oakland. The team competed in NCAA Division I-AA as an independent from 1993 through 2003.The school's first football team was fielded in 1892, and it was nationally prominent in the 1930s and 1940s, winning the Cotton Bowl in 1939 and losing in the Sugar Bowl in 1946. That 1945 team won its first seven games and was ranked seventh in the AP poll entering the bowl game. Many home games of this era were played at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.

The football program was dropped after the 1950 season, revived as a club sport, and returned to varsity status in 1970 (College Division, later Division III), and moved up to Division II in 1980.

In order to keep its overall athletics program at Division I, football was required to cease or move up to Division I-AA by 1993. (Rival Santa Clara discontinued football after 1992.) After eleven seasons as an I-AA independent, Saint Mary's ended its football program on March 3, 2004, citing budgetary reasons.

Running backs
Wide receivers /
Tight ends
Pre-modern era
two-way players
Defensive backs
and punters

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