Billy Johnson (gridiron football)
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|No. 81, 84, 88|
|Position:||Wide receiver / Return specialist|
|Date of birth:||January 27, 1952|
|Place of birth:||Boothwyn, Pennsylvania|
|Height:||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|Weight:||170 lb (77 kg)|
|High school:||Chichester High School|
|NFL draft:||1974 / Round: 15 / Pick: 365|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
William Arthur Johnson (born January 27, 1952), better known as Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, is a former American football player who played in the National Football League (NFL) from 1974 through 1988. He is known for being one of the first players to display elaborate celebrations in the end zone.
Johnson earned his famous nickname as a high schooler at Chichester High School in Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, where he dyed his shoes as part of a dare. Ever since then, he has been referred to by his nickname. He was a very fast athlete, but his 5'9" size turned off prominent universities from recruiting him. Billy ended up going to Widener College in Pennsylvania, a small Division III school, where he was a member of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity. While there, he had a highly successful career, but was barely noticed by professional scouts. He was eventually discovered by the Houston Oilers, who drafted him in the fifteenth round of the 1974 NFL Draft.
Johnson made the squad as a kickoff returner, with his speed and quickness becoming an occasional part of the offense. As a rookie, he began celebrating touchdowns with a dance known as the "Funky Chicken", a dance based on a song from soul singer Rufus Thomas. It was one of the first touchdown celebrations in league history. He later developed a new dance called the "Six Shooter". The dances, along with his footwear, made Johnson popular among Oilers fans. His claim that his "skinney little ankles" made him more mobile on the field required the wrapping of his ankles and the outside of his shoes with athletic tape, making them look white. (Personal conversation 1976)
As a kick returner, Johnson returned five punts for touchdowns, along with two kickoffs, in his first four years with the Oilers, and added 12 more touchdowns on offense. He was selected to the Pro Bowl as a kick returner in 1975, and was named MVP of the game, during which he returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown. He made another Pro Bowl appearance in 1977. In 1978, he suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss most of the next two seasons and lingered with him for the rest of his career. When he returned in 1980, he was no longer the kick returner, serving only as a backup wide receiver.
CFL and the Atlanta Falcons
Johnson played the 1981 season in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes, where he was a star on a team that went 3-13; he caught 65 passes for 1,060 yards and 5 TDs, and returned 59 punts for 597 yards (fellow NFL players Vince Ferragamo, James Scott and David Overstreet were team mates.) He returned to the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons in 1982. In 1983, he doubled as a full-time kick returner, where he scored his sixth career touchdown on a punt return, and starting wide receiver, leading the team in receptions. Johnson earned his third Pro Bowl berth that season. He missed most of 1984 due to injury, and was benched as a return man in 1985. However, he led the Falcons in receptions and receiving yards that season. Another injury in 1986 was the beginning of the end for Johnson, and he retired after the 1987 season, although he briefly un-retired to play one game for the Washington Redskins in 1988.
He remains the only man selected to the National Football League 75th Anniversary All-Time Team not in the Hall of Fame.
During 1978, Johnson appeared in 25 games for the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Professional Slo-Pitch softball league, hitting four home runs with a batting average of .349.
- "Billy 'White Shoes' Johnson talks about his faith" Victoria Advocate, March 29, 2010
- "Coaching Staff". Duluth High School Football. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- NFL 2001 Record and Fact Book, Workman Publishing Co, New York,NY, ISBN 0-7611-2480-2, p.401
- Crossley, Andy. "1978-80 Philadelphia Athletics". http://www.funwhileitlasted.net. Retrieved 1 July 2014. External link in