Everything You Need To Know About Charley Johnson

Charley Johnson is a former American football quarterback for three NFL teams, Pro Bowl participant and professor at the University of New Mexico. His life path is strikingly different from what we're used to seeing from football players. Here's everything you need to know about Charley Johnson.

Charley Johnson

Charley Lane Johnson was born on November 22, 1938, in the city of Big Spring in west Texas. His childhood was spent there, and Charley graduated from high school there. After graduation, he received an athletic scholarship offer from the prestigious private Shriner's Institute, but the football program there was shut down the year he enrolled. After that, Johnson transferred to the University of New Mexico. He was named to the basketball team, but opted instead to try to make the football team's roster. The attempt was successful and for the next two seasons Charley took the place of the starting quarterback of the team. Twice, in 1959 and 1960, he led it to victory in the Sun Bowl and was twice recognized as the MVP of the game. Johnson was inducted into the University's Athletic Hall of Fame for his services, and his No. 33 remains the only one retired by the program.

In 1960, Johnson entered the draft in the AFL and NFL. In both leagues he was drafted in the late rounds, and between the Chargers and the St. Louis Cardinals he chose the latter. After sitting out his first season as a reserve, Charley then cemented his place as the team's primary quarterback for five years.

In the 1963 season, he gained a record 3280 yards and received a Pro Bowl invitation for the only time in his career, and a year later with 3045 yards he became the league's most productive passer.

In 1966, Charley became the NFL's best 4th-quarter kickoff returner - he managed to save the team from defeat in five regular-season games. Then the Cardinals decided to bet on Jim Hart, and Johnson was traded to the Houston Oilers. After a couple years there, he moved to the Denver Broncos, where he spent the last four years of his career. In 15 years in the league, Charley gained 24410 passing yards and threw 170 touchdowns with 181 interceptions. He was inducted into the Broncos Ring of Fame in 1986.

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Johnson's further destiny was connected with science. While still playing for the Cardinals, he managed to get a master's degree in chemical engineering. Charley also participated in the Reserve Officer Training Program, but later was found unfit for service in the combat area and avoided participation in the Vietnam War. With the rank of 2nd lieutenant in the reserves, Johnson spent two years at NASA.

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In 1981, he opened his own manufacturing company in Houston and ran it for nearly twenty years. In 2000, he was invited to head a department at the University of New Mexico, and from 2004 to 2012 Charley was its professor. For a few months, he also served as interim coach of a college football team.

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