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John Henry Johnson

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File:John Henry Johnson Induction.jpg
No. 35
Position: Fullback
Personal information
Date of birth: (1929-11-24)November 24, 1929
Place of birth: Waterproof, Louisiana, U.S.
Date of death: June 3, 2011(2011-06-03) (aged 81)
Place of death: Tracy, California, U.S.
Career information
College: Arizona State
NFL draft: 1953 / Round: 2 / Pick: 18
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career Template:If empty statistics
Rushing Yards: 6,803
Average: 4.3
Touchdowns: 48
Stats at

John Henry Johnson (November 24, 1929 – June 3, 2011)[1] was an American fullback in collegiate and Professional Football. He played one season with the Calgary Stampeders of the Western Interprovincial Football Union in 1953, then from 1954 to 1965 for the San Francisco 49ers, the Detroit Lions, and the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL, and then one season (1966) with the Houston Oilers of the American Football League.

College football

Johnson was a native of Waterproof in southern Tensas Parish in northeastern Louisiana. Prior to his professional career, he split his college career between Saint Mary's College of California and Arizona State University. He was also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

Professional career

He is best remembered for being a member of the 49ers famed "Million Dollar Backfield". Upon his retirement, John was ranked fourth on pro football's all-time rushing list, behind only Jim Brown, Jim Taylor and his fellow "Million Dollar Backfield" teammate, Joe Perry. He is also still currently ranked fourth on the all-time Steelers rushing list, behind only Franco Harris, Jerome Bettis, and Willie Parker. In 1987, he was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 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.


On Friday, June 3, 2011, Johnson died in Tracy, California at the age of 81.[2] On June 9, 2011, it was announced that Johnson and his fellow "Million Dollar Backfield" teammate, Joe Perry, who died on April 25, 2011, would have their brains examined by researchers at Boston University who are studying head injuries in sports. Both men were suspected of suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, 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 was in a wheelchair. She told the San Francisco Chronicle that she hoped by donating her father's brain, it would "help with a cure."[3]

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