View Full Version : John Henry Johnson dies at age 81
06-04-2011, 06:52 PM
RACY, Calif. — Hall of Fame running back John Henry Johnson, a former Steeler, has died. He was 81.
The San Francisco 49ers say Johnson, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987 after a 14-season NFL career, died Friday in Tracy.
In six seasons with the Steelers from 1960-65, Johnson rushed for 4,381 yards and 26 touchdowns, making three Pro Bowls. He rushed for 1,141 yards in 1962, becoming the first Steeler to break the 1,000-yard mark. He matched the feat by rushing for 1,048 yards in 1964.
A member of the "Million Dollar Backfield," Johnson played three seasons for the 49ers (1954-56). A four-time Pro Bowler (1954, 1962-64), Johnson's 6,803 career yards rushing trailed only Jim Brown, Jim Taylor and former 49er Joe Perry upon his retirement in 1966. Johnson was also a productive receiver, catching 186 passes for 1,478 yards. He scored 55 touchdowns during his career.
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Discipline of Steel
06-05-2011, 07:55 AM
Interesting he was a probowler in 1954 with the 49ers, then again with the Steelers 1962-1964. Big gap in between, i cant imagine that happening in todays game.
06-05-2011, 03:10 PM
Obituary: John Henry Johnson / Hall of Famer was Steelers' leader in career rushing before Harris
Nov. 24, 1929 - June 3, 2011
Sunday, June 05, 2011
From staff and wire reports
Former Steelers running back John Henry Johnson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.
John Henry Johnson, a pro football Hall of Fame running back who was the Steelers' career rushing leader until Franco Harris came along, died Friday in Tracy, Calif. He was 81 and the cause of death was not reported.
In a National Football League career spanning 13 seasons with four teams, Mr. Johnson had 6,803 career yards rushing by the time he retired in 1966, trailing Jim Brown, Jim Taylor and onetime San Francisco 49ers teammate Joe Perry, who died April 25, at his retirement. Mr. Johnson also caught 186 passes for 1,478 yards and scored 55 touchdowns.
Drafted by the Steelers in the second round of the 1953 NFL draft, Mr. Johnson played for the Canadian Football League for one season before joining San Francisco.
He played for the 49ers from 1954-56, joining Perry, Hugh McElhenny and Y.A. Tittle, whose offensive prowess led to the nickname "The Million Dollar Backfield." The group is the only "full house" backfield to have all four of its members enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
Mr. Johnson also played for the Detroit Lions (1957-59), the Steelers (1960-65) and Houston Oilers (1966).
With the Steelers, Mr. Johnson became the first player in franchise history to gain 1,000 yards rushing in a season, accomplishing that feat twice -- in 1962 and 1964. While he was with the team for just six seasons (1960-65) Mr. Johnson is still fourth on the Steelers' all-time rushing list with 4,383 yards. Only Mr. Harris, Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker have rushed for more yardage for the Steelers.
"We are deeply saddened by the death of John Henry Johnson," the Steelers said Saturday in a statement. "Also known for being one of the greatest blocking backs of his era, John Henry was one of the first in a long line of Steelers' Hall of Famers. The entire Steelers organization sends its condolences to the Johnson family for the loss of one of the great players in team history."
A native of Waterproof, La., Mr. Johnson was born on Nov. 24, 1929. He graduated from Pittsburg High School in Northern California, where his No. 35 jersey is retired and hangs in the weight room. He wore that number throughout his NFL career. He played college football at St. Mary's and Arizona State.
In his rookie year with the 49ers, Mr. Johnson ranked second in the league with 681 yards rushing and a 5.3-yard average, scoring nine touchdowns. He finished his three-year stint in San Francisco with 1,051 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns, 279 yards receiving on 38 receptions.
Mr. Johnson went on to play for the Detroit Lions (1957-59) and helped them win the NFL championship in 1957.
He finished his pro career with the Houston Oilers of the American Football League in 1966.
Johnson was also a productive receiver, catching 186 passes for 1,478 yards. He scored 55 touchdowns, rushing and pass receiving, during his career and played in four Pro Bowl games (1954, 1962-64). He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, in 1987.
"I was deeply saddened to hear of John Henry Johnson's passing," said 49ers owner John York. "He was a good friend, not only to my family and me, but the entire 49ers organization. As a member of the "Million Dollar Backfield" he holds a cherished place in both 49ers and NFL history. His contributions to the game of football will be forever celebrated.
"Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the entire Johnson family."
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06-06-2011, 01:55 AM
Good Night, John Henry, and Thank You.
by maryrose on Jun 5, 2011
John Henry Johnson died over the weekend in California at the age of 81. Johnson, along with Big Daddy Lipscomb, was my first Steelers hero, and for many good reasons. Johnson was a fullback in a halfback's body. He was 6-2, 210 pounds and one of the most complete backs in NFL history. He would run through you, around you, had great moves in the open field, had soft hands as an excellent receiver and no one, and I mean no one, ever blocked better as a running back. Bobby Layne loved having John Henry in the backfield on passing plays. Respected by everyone, Johnson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of fame in 1987.
Johnson was selected by the Steelers in the second round of the 1953 NFL Draft. He opted to play in Canada instead, but came back to the NFL after one year to join San Francisco's "Million Dollar Backfield," along with future Hall of Famers Hugh McElhenny, Y. A. Tittle, and Joe Perry. Traded to Detroit in 1957, Johnson led the Lions in rushing, helping them to the NFL Championship, before becoming a Pittsburgh Steeler in 1960. When he retired after the 1966 season, his 6,803 career rushing yards ranked him behind only Jim Brown, Jim Taylor, and Joe Perry as the top ground gainers of all time. Johnson also was an excellent pass receiver with 186 receptions for 1,478 yards. He scored 330 points on 55 touchdowns in his career. It was with the Steelers that John Henry enjoyed his finest seasons. In both 1962 and 1964, he broke the 1,000-yard rushing barrier, the first Steeler to achieve that lofty level. Johnson was selected to play in the 1955, 1963, 1964, and 1965 Pro Bowl Games.
What separated John Henry from other running backs was his ferocious ability and willingness to block. He had no equal at his position. He fractured at least one skull and three jaws that we know of, one jaw in two places, with his blocking alone. Before his NFL days, John Henry played in Canada where he broke Bill Bewley's jaw in two places. When he came to the NFL, he hit Charlie Trippi of the Chicago Cardinals so hard he fractured Trippi's skull. Some friends of Trippi's in Chicago seriously suggested to him that they arrange some underground retribution, but Trippi talked them out of it.
After breaking the jaw of Eddie Hughes of the New York Giants, his grand finale occurred in Los Angeles against the Rams in 1961. Johnson broke Les Richter's jaw with another forearm shiver. The Rams were intent on getting even. Los Angeles defensive back Ed Meador intercepted a pass and Johnson ran him out-of-bounds. A string of Rams came after Johnson, so he picked up the yard marker and started swinging at them wildly. That ended any thoughts of revenge. John Henry fractured three jaws and a skull and mind you, he played on offense. Paul Brown once yelled at Johnson, "You've hit everybody in the league." Johnson shot back "Then we've got a tie game. Everybody in the league has hit me."
John Henry had the game of his life, the defining game of his career, in 1964, in Cleveland against the Browns. Cleveland would win the NFL championship that year, but Johnson quieted more than 80,000 stunned fans on the lakefront with a performance for the ages. John Henry became only the ninth player in NFL history to rush for 200 yards in a game (30 carries). He scored all three Steelers' touchdown. The final score was 23-7. The game was not nearly as close as the score might indicate. Pittsburgh amassed a ghastly 354 yards rushing (Clarence Peaks chipped in with 96) and simply ran all over Cleveland at will. Johnson shared that Saturday night stage with the great Jimmy Brown and the latter was clearly the undercard. In 1996, in Ohio, I finally met John Henry Johnson and asked him to sign my Steelers' helmet. I reminded him of that game and his grin was wide enough to connect a 32-year bridge between a little boy and his first football hero. Thank you, John Henry, for being a whooping crane in a world of sparrows.
http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/20 ... -thank-you (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2011/6/5/2207312/good-night-john-henry-and-thank-you)
06-06-2011, 09:15 AM
I saw John Henry Johnson at a mall signing about 9 years ago (my son is turning 10 this month, and I remember carrying him that day...he was too small to walk). Although he was in his 70's and in poor health, you could still see the football player in Johnson's body. I never got to speak to him, because they separated the legendary players from the current players, and we were in line to see Joey Porter and Amos Zereoue instead (Jake was on the news that night sitting on Peezy's lap...we got his toddler-sized Jerome Bettis jersey signed by those two, but unfortunately not by John Henry Johnson).
06-06-2011, 09:30 AM
Wasn't no pu$$y-ball game in JHJ's day.
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