John Henry Johnson, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died Friday after battling health issues the past five years, according to multiple reports.
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Johnson, who was part of the San Francisco 49ers’ famed “Million Dollar Backfield” in the 1950s, died in Tracy, Calif. at age 81, relatives and close friends told the Contra Costa (Calif.) Times.
He had plenty of productive seasons, but Johnson is best remembered for his time (1954-56) in the 49ers backfield with Y.A. Tittle, Joe Perry who died in late April and Hugh McElhenny. All four members eventually were enshrined in Canton, Ohio.
Johnson played professionally for 14 seasons and four different NFL franchises. His longest tenure was with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1960-65), for whom he turned in his most notable season: In 1964, he rushed for 1,141 yards and seven touchdowns and played in the Pro Bowl.
Johnson ranks fourth on the Steelers’ all-time rushing list behind Franco Harris, Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker.
During his Hall of Fame induction in 1987, Johnson was praised for his bruising running style and superior blocking.