Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



John Henry Johnson is Latest Running Back Pioneer to Pass Away 0

Posted on June 04, 2011 by Dean Hybl

John Henry Johnson is one of three Hall of Fame running backs to pass away so far in 2011.

The death on Friday of John Henry Johnson marks the third Hall of Fame running back from the 1950s to pass away so far in 2011. In addition to Johnson, Ollie Matson died on February 19th and Joe Perry passed away on April 25th.

As some of the first African American superstars in the NFL, these three future Hall of Famers were among a group of runners that brought excitement and versatility to the NFL in the 1950s.

Here is a brief look at the careers of these three all-time greats:

Ollie Matson – A decade before Bob Hayes went from Olympic sprinter to NFL superstar, Ollie Matson won silver and bronze medals as a sprinter at the 1952 Olympics and then earned All-Pro honors and co-Rookie of the Year honors as an NFL rookie.

A multiple threat as a running back, receiver and returner, Matson twice led the NFL in all-purpose yards and was a first team All-Pro during each of his first five seasons with the Chicago Cardinals.

Following the 1958 season, he was the centerpiece of one of the first blockbuster trades in NFL history as the Los Angeles Rams traded nine players to acquire Matson. He rushed for 863 yards and had 1,421 yards from scrimmage during his first season in Los Angeles, but the Rams won only 11 games during his four seasons in Los Angeles. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Larry “The Zonk” Csonka
      January 29, 2022 | 4:43 pm
      Larry Csonka

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the leader of a running attack that was the cornerstone of two Super Bowl Championship teams, including the only undefeated squad in NFL history.

      With his distinctive headgear and a body suited for punishing contact, Larry Csonka looked the part of a fullback and for 11 NFL seasons delivered and took regular punishment on his way to the Hall of Fame.

      Following in the great tradition of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Jim Nance and Floyd Little, Csonka earned All-American honors at Syracuse while rushing for 2,934 yards.  He began earning a name for himself as the Most Valuable Player of the East–West Shrine Game, the Hula Bowl, and the College All-Star Game.

      Read more »

    • RSSArchive for Vintage Athlete of the Month »
  • Follow Us Online

  • Current Poll

    Which Rookie MLB Player Do You Think Will Have the Best Career?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Post Categories



↑ Top