NFL Legend Jimmy Johnson Dead At 86

Jack O'Brien Contributor
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The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the death of legendary San Francisco 49ers cornerback Jimmy Johnson, who sadly passed away on Wednesday at the age of 86. 

Johnson was a true legend, spending his entire 16-year career with only one team: the 49ers. The NFL Hall of Fame noted highlights of Johnson’s career on and off the field, including that San Francisco retired Johnson’s jersey in 1977, the year following his playing career. Playing in 213 regular-season games throughout his career, Johnson established himself as one the most formidable man-to-man defenders in NFL history. 

Throughout his life, and before entering the NFL, Johnson was recognized as a highly talented and versatile athlete, excelling in several sports beyond football, including baseball, basketball and track. During his pro football career, he was known for his speed, reflexes and exceptional tackling. 

After racking up numerous accolades including being named All-Pro in four consecutive years, and playing in three Pro Bowls while being selected to five, he secured a place on the NFL’s All-Decade Team representing the 1970’s. 

Johnson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994. Despite his illustrious football career, Johnson remained notably humble and demonstrated a sincere respect for his opponents as a competitor on the field. “If opposing receivers respected Johnson, so too did he respect the opponents he faced each week,” the Hall of Fame remarked in their tribute to the legend.

He was known as a gentleman throughout his entire life for his stunning achievements on and off the football field. Bleacher Report quoted Joe Thomas, the former 49ers president and general manager, who said, “Jimmy Johnson has not only been a great football player, he has been one of the game’s finest citizens throughout his career.” 

After his playing career, Johnson chose to remain in the San Francisco area, showing a true dedication to the city and its community. The Hall of Fame reported that his family stated he had been in failing health for some time. (RELATED: NFL To Allow Players To Wear Guardian Caps)

It is perhaps his brother, Rafer Johnson, whose words epitomize the late Jimmy Johnson best. Speaking at his brother’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony he said, “Jimmy is a quiet man, but he played with determination and commitment. Most of all, Jim was, and is, a gentle man and a true gentleman.”

Jimmy Johnson lives on through the shrine commemorating his playing career at the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.