Sept. 14, 2011
UCLA and NFL Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson returned to the Rose Bowl on Sept. 10 as an honorary team captain for the Bruins.
Johnson was one of the finest student-athletes in UCLA history, excelling in both football and track and field. He lettered in football from 1958-60 and earned a pair of varsity letters in track and field. In 1960, he won the NCAA high hurdles title in 13.9 seconds, and in 1959, he was the Pacific Coast Conference long jump champion.
In football, Johnson was a versatile offensive player, returning kickoffs and playing both running back and receiver. In his senior year of 1960, he led the Bruins with an average of 8.5 yards per carry and caught 14 passes for 254 yards for an 18.1-yard average. Following his college career, Johnson was selected in the first round of the NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers, for whom he played 16 years. In his rookie season, he intercepted five passes for 116 yards. He moved to offense in his second year (1962) and caught 34 passes for 627 yards and four touchdowns. During his third season, he moved back to defense, where he remained until his retirement in 1976. Considered one of the best man-to-man defenders in NFL history, Johnson intercepted 47 passes in his career, earned All-Pro honors four times and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1994.
Johnson is the younger brother of Rafer Johnson, the 1960 Olympic decathlon champion and also a member of the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame.
UCLABruins.com's Ralph Irvin caught up with Jimmy Johnson on the field during the Bruins' home opener vs. San Jose State.