Pete Johnson (American football)
|No. 46, 42|
|Date of birth:||March 2, 1954|
|Place of birth:||Peach County, Georgia|
|NFL draft:||1977 / Round: 2 / Pick: 49|
|Career highlights and awards|
Career NFL statistics
|Stats at NFL.com|
|Stats at pro-football-reference.com|
Pete Johnson (born March 2, 1954) is a former college and professional American football running back. He played eight seasons in the NFL, primarily with the Cincinnati Bengals. Before his NFL career, Johnson played for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Pete Johnson played fullback for Ohio State from 1973 through 1976. In 1973, starting fullback Champ Henson was injured and converted linebacker Bruce Elia was named to start in Henson's place. By the end of that season, however, freshman fullback Johnson had worked his way up the depth chart. In 1974, Elia returned to the linebacker corps and Henson and Johnson alternated at fullback.
Although tailback Archie Griffin got most of the carries from 1972 to 1975, the Ohio State fullbacks still got the ball frequently and were expected to be major contributors, particularly in short-yardage situations. In 1972 the team's leading scorer was Henson, and in 1973 it was Elia. Johnson's best season was in 1975. Even though Griffin led the team with 1,450 rushing yards, Johnson still rushed for 1,059 yards and set single OSU single season records for rushing touchdowns (25) and scoring (156 points).
One of Johnson's more notable performances was a game against the University of North Carolina in 1975. While Griffin rushed for 157 yards, Johnson rushed for 148 yards and set a school record with five touchdowns. Johnson finished his career at Ohio State with 2,308 rushing yards and a school record 58 touchdowns (which was also a Big Ten record as well). His 348 points was also a Buckeyes record until surpassed by kicker Mike Nugent's 356 points in 2004.
In 2000, Johnson was selected for the Ohio State Football All-Century Team. On September 8, 2007, during halftime of the Ohio State-Akron game, Johnson was inducted into Ohio State's Athletics Hall of Fame.
A superb rusher and blocker, Johnson excelled at running back for the Bengals. He was the team's leading rusher for all seven seasons he played for them, and scored 12 or more rushing touchdowns in three different seasons. His best season was in 1981, where he made his only Pro Bowl selection. Johnson set career highs in rushing (1,077 yards), receptions(46), receiving yards(320) and touchdowns(16), leading the team to a 12-4 record.
In the postseason, Johnson helped the team record their first ever playoff win by rushing for 45 yards, catching 3 passes for 23 yards, and scoring a touchdown in the team's 28-21 divisional victory over the Buffalo Bills. Then in the AFC title game(known in NFL lore as the Freezer Bowl), Johnson rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown, while also catching a 14-yard reception as the team defeated the San Diego Chargers 27-7 to earn their first ever Super Bowl appearance. However, the team lost Super Bowl XVI to the San Francisco 49ers 26-21, and Johnson was limited to just 36 rushing yards and 8 receiving yards in the game.
In 1984, Johnson was traded to the Chargers in exchange for running back James Brooks. He left Cincinnati as their all-time leader in rushing yards(5,421), touchdowns(70), and their second all-time leading scorer with 420 points. Johnson spent the first three games of the 1984 season with Chargers and spent the final 13 games with Miami before retiring after the season ended.
In his eight NFL seasons, Johnson rushed for 5,626 yards, caught 175 passes for 1,334 yards, and scored 82 touchdowns (76 rushing and 6 receiving).
In 1983, he and another Bengals player testified in exchange for immunity from prosecution that they had purchased cocaine from a Cincinnati plumber and he was suspended by the NFL for four games. In 1987, he was indicted by a federal grand jury on four cocaine-related charges and at the time of his indictment was selling cars in Miami, according to the New York Times archive. He was found not guilty by a Columbus jury in February 1988.