Athlete, scholar, author, community activist, entrepreneur and Jewel’s dad… anyway you read it Johnny Rodgers is far more than just football.

As a player with the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers, Johnny Rodgers served as a punt return specialist, pass receiver and running back. Rodgers broke virtually every offensive team record during his tenure. He was twice named to the College Football All American Team, won the Walter Camp Award and the Heisman Trophy in 1972 for most outstanding player in college football.

In his three years with the Cornhuskers, the versatile Rodgers established an all-purpose NCAA yardage record of 5,586. College Football News has described him as “the greatest kick returner in college football history. Rodgers returned seven punts for touchdowns in his college career, a feat that Stood as the NCAA record for decades.

Honors recognize Johnny’s athletic ability, but he is also proud of degrees in broadcast journalism and advertising from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In 2005 he was named the University of Nebraska’s Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2006 Johnny authored his first book; “An Era of Greatness: Coach Bob Devaney’s Final Four Seasons in University of Nebraska Football (1969-1972),” a “must read” for all “Husker” fans. Johnny’s second book titled; “10 Minutes Of Insanity” is a story of Johnny’s first 25 years and an inspiration for all. In addition to starting Rodgers Literary Marketing, Inc., Johnny is the founder of the Johnny Rodgers Youth Foundation. A program aimed at helping and strengthening the family structure, while creating opportunities for youth through character, education and social development. He’s in demand as a public speaker and his inspirational talks encourage teamwork and persistence in reaching goals. Johnny regularly attends and supports events that support youth sports and leadership programs. He’s active in Dr. Tom Osborne’s Teammates Mentoring Program.

Johnny was elected to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 2000. The Sports Writers Association named Johnny the Most Valuable Player in Big 8 History. He’s a member of the Nebraska Football All Century Team and in 2000 he was named the Nebraska’s Cornhusker Player of the Century. In 2008 he was named to the Omaha Public School Hall of Fame, the Sports Illustrated Best Ever All-Time All-Star and the Orange Bowl All- Time team. CBS Sports named Rodgers number six in its list of Top 10 Players in College Football ever as a Wide Receiver. Currently through his youth foundation he has joined the fight to keep kids in school. At a time of surging dropout rates across the country Mr. Rodgers is committed to helping alleviate this awful fate of so many students today.

In 2013 he will take it one step further when he combines the Return Specialist Award with trade-worthy students. This year, The Return Specialist Award is happy to announce a merging of efforts with the trade branch of Metropolitan Community College. The goal is to raise $100,000.00 to be used as scholarship funds for one hundred or more students to enter trade school at the college. These funds will provide for youth from the north Omaha community, where Johnny was born, raised and continues to reside.


  • 2016: Inducted into the Nebraska Cornhusker Football Hall of Fame.
  • 2015: Big 10 Conference Honors Rodgers/Dewight to Launch the Return Specialist of the Year Award.
  • 2011: Created the Johnny “The Jet” Rodgers National College Football Return Specialist Award, AKA The Jet Award.
  • 2008: Named to the Omaha Public School Hall of Fame, the Sports Illustrated Best Ever All Time Star and the Orange Bowl All-Time Team. CBS Sports named Rodgers number six on its list of the Top 10 Players in College Football Ever as wide receiver.
  • 2007: Ranked No. 23 on ESPN’s Top 25 Players in the College Football History list.
  • 2006: Wrote and published, “An Era of Greatness: Coach Bob Devaney’s Final Four Seasons in University of Nebraska Football (1969-1972). This book takes a nostalgic and reflective look back on one of the greatest teams in college football history from the eyes of the players, their coaches and opponents. He deftly describes the records and achievements of that era within the historical perspective of NU football teams beginning in 1890. In interviews of over 80 players, coaches and members of the media, Rodgers’ book reveals the phenomenal chemistry and camaraderie that made the teams from 1969 through 1972 truly special.
  • 2000: Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and was also voted the “Most Valuable Player” in the history of the Big Eight Conference.
  • 2000: Named “Husker Player of the Century” by Sports Illustrated.
  • 1999: Selected as a receiver by Sports Illustrated in their “NCAA Football All-Century Team”.
  • 1999: Selected as receiver to the Walter Camp Football Foundation College Football All-Century Team.
  • 1977-1979: Played for the San Diego Chargers, National Football League
  • 1975: Canadian Football League Most Outstanding Player.
  • 1974: Most Outstanding Player Award, Canadian Football League Eastern Conference.
  • 1973: Orange Bowl: 81 Rushing Yards; 71 Receiving Yards; 52 Passing Yards and 5 Touchdowns against Notre Dame. Rodgers sat out the fourth quarter of Nebraska’s 40-6 victory. He is still widely considered the best bowl performance by a Heisman winner (AP).
  • 1973: Dropped out of college to accept First Round Draft of the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League.
  • 1973: Rookie of the Year in the Canadian Football League where his quickness and versatility made him a valuable favorite over several seasons.
  • 1973-1976: All-Pro in the Canadian Football League.
  • 1972: Awarded the 1972 Heisman Memorial Trophy, the single most celebrated and sought after award in American collegiate athletics and the national symbol of collegiate football experience and competitiveness.
  • 1972: Designated by the University of Nebraska Cornhusker as Outstanding College Football Player in the United States.
  • 1972: An All Big 8 performer as a sophomore, Rodgers helped guide Nebraska Cornhuskers to their first ever National Championship with over 1,500 yards of total offense and 11 touchdowns.
  • 1972: Walter Camp Football Outstanding Player.
  • 1972: United Press International College Offensive Player of the Year.
  • 1972: ABC Chevrolet Player of the Year with a $5,000 Scholarship.
  • 1971: Nebraska Cornhuskers repeated as National Champions. Rodgers put together an All-American effort, accumulating 17 touchdowns and culminating the year with one of the greatest plays in the annals of college football, when he returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown against the Oklahoma Sooners in the “Game of the Century” with a thrilling 35-31 victory over Oklahoma. Recognized as one of the most versatile backs in Cornhusker history and operating as a punt returner, pass receiver, blocker and runner, Rodgers broke offensive records by the dozens. In his three year career, Rodgers racked up 5,586 all-purpose yards for an NCAA record.
  • 1971-1972: First Team All American.
  • Concluded his Nebraska legacy as the most honored Cornhusker of all time, when he became Nebraska’s first Heisman Trophy winner, won the Walter Camp Award, was the United Press International Offensive Player of the Year and was again a first team All American selection, amassing nearing 6,000 total yards and 46 touchdowns for his career.
  • 1969: Athlete of the Year, State of Nebraska; All American Football High School; All City Basketball High School; All State Long Jump; All American Baseball High School.
  • 1969: Drafted to the Los Angeles Dodgers Baseball Team.
  • 1969: Received over 50 Scholarship offers to play football nationwide.
  • 1969: Accepted Scholarship to Nebraska Football and Baseball
    • All Big Eight Honors
    • Walter Camp Award Winner
    • Offensive Player of the Year
    • All American Honors
    • 7 Big Eight Conference Records
    • 4 NCAA Record All-Purpose
    • Set and/or Holds 41 School Records
    • Set NCAA Records All-Purpose Yard (6,059 Yards)
    • 13.8 Career Average, National Record for yards per touch
    • Names to Sports Illustrated No. 85 Player All-Century Team


  • 1970-1972: 8 Touchdowns Scored On Kick/Punt Returns, Career, NCAA Record
  • 1970-1972: 7 Punt Returns For Touchdowns, Career, NCAA Record
  • 1970-1972: 150 Pass Receptions, Career
  • 1970-1972: 2,708 Pass Receiving Yards, Career
  • 1971: 11 Touchdown Pass Receptions, Season
  • 1970-1972: 26 Touchdown Pass Receptions, Career
  • 1971: 170 Punt Return Yards, Game, Nebraska Vs. Oklahoma State
  • 1972: 618 Punt Return Yards, Season
  • 1970-1972: 1,654 Punt Return Yards, Career


  • 2014-Present: Vice President of new business development in the United States and Canada, for RFDTV and Rural Radio Sirius XM 147 – Rural America’s Important Network.
  • 2010 to Present: Co-Founder and CEO, Hall of Fame Staffing, a Certified Minority Business Enterprise and Griffin Groupe Affiliate which functions as a staffing firm specializing in diversity and finding the more experienced professionals that corporations are demanding.
  • Website: http://thegriffingroupe.com/hall-of-fame-staffing/
  • 1989 to Present: Founder, The Johnny Rodgers Youth Foundation, a 501(c)(3) Corporation: In partnership with the network for Holistic Recovery, this scholarship foundation is an outreach to service the unmet needs of at risk children “outside the scope” of most structured human resource and service organizations.
  • 2006: Incorporated Champion Publishers and self-published “An Era of Greatness: Coach Bob Devaney’s Final Four Seasons in University of Nebraska Football (1969-1972)”, featuring the history of the league and interviews with freshmen to senior players; called a “must read” for all Husker fans.
  • 2006: President/Founder, Champion Productions, delivering public speaking guest appearances at events and schools.
  • 2006: Closed Jet Wear, Inc.
  • 2006: Started Champion Publishers, Inc., a publishing company.
  • 2005-2006: Jet Wear, Inc. named “Entrepreneur of the Year”. Jet Wear, Inc. was the largest distributor of juvenile bedding in America with 25 collegiate licenses and creator of children’s logo bedding.
  • 1995: Graduated with a double major in Broadcast Journalism and Advertising, University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
  • 1995-2005: President, Malcolm X Memorial Foundation acquiring 10 acres for the Malcolm X birth site marker and building.
  • 1995: Founder, Jet Wear, Inc., collegiate bedding with 25 collegiate school licenses.
  • 1990: Returned to home town of Omaha, Nebraska.
  • 1989: Established Johnny Rodgers Youth Foundation, a 501(c)(3) corporation.
  • 1983: Established the first Weekly Cable & Network T.V. Entertainment magazine in the U.S.
  • 1983-1984: Acquired A.B.C. Audit for the circulation of 75,000 paid subscribers and news stand sales becoming the 5th largest revenue bearing magazine in the country.
  • 1983: All-Pro Realty Condo Conversion Specialist.
  • 1983: President, Black Writers Association.
  • 1882: Chairman Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, San Diego, California.
  • 1981: President, Senior Citizens of San Diego, California.
  • 1980: President, Leukemia Society of San Diego, California.




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