BILLY JOHNSON

2018 LEGACY Award Winner! WIDENER UNIVERSITY

Billy Johnson highlights

 

William Arthur Johnson (born January 27, 1952), better known as Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, is a former American football player who played in the National Football League (NFL) from 1974 through 1988. He is known for being one of the first players to display elaborate celebrations in the end zone.

Early lifeJohnson earned his famous nickname as a high schooler at Chichester High School in Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, where he dyed his shoes as part of a dare. Ever since then, he has been referred to by his nickname. He was a very fast athlete, but his 5'9" size turned off prominent universities from recruiting him. Billy ended up going to Widener College in Pennsylvania, a small Division III school, where he was a member of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity. While there, he had a highly successful career, but was barely noticed by professional scouts. He was eventually discovered by the Houston Oilers, who drafted him in the 15th round of the 1974 NFL Draft.

Professional career
Houston Oilers : Johnson made the squad as a kickoff returner, with his speed and quickness becoming an occasional part of the offense. As a rookie, he began celebrating touchdowns with a dance known as the "Funky Chicken", a dance based on a song from soul singer Rufus Thomas. It was one of the first touchdown celebrations in league history.

 

Damon Benning, (Lead Voting Panelist) was a four year letterman who helped lead the Huskers to back-to-back national titles. He finished his career carrying the pigskin 270 times for a total of 1,562 yards. Benning also caught the ball 12 times for a total of 134 yards and returned 32 kickoffs for 770 yards. He finished his Husker career with 2,625 all-purpose yards. Due to his outstanding career, Benning was signed as a free-agent by the Carolina Panthers in 1997. Currently Benning focuses his attention on The Sharp & Benning in the Morning on 1620 The Zone.

THE JET AWARD VOTING SELECTION PROCESS

 

To be considered for the Jet Award, players must be a Division 1 college football team member and meet the following qualifications:

  • Be a primary return specialist (Kick or Punt returner) for their team.
  • Be among the national leaders in return categories
  • Show leadership, courage, desire, respect for authority and discipline.

The first round of voting should be conducted in late September and early October. From that first round of votes, the list of 12 semifinalists will be created and released at the end of October. The second round of voting will take place in mid-October to form the list of four finalists.  A final vote in early December to determine the winner and the decision is announced at the Award Presentation.

Media Voting Panel

Blair Kerkoff KC Star (Midwest)        George Schroeder USA Today

(Pacific NW)

Cedric Golden Austin American Statesman

(Texas)

Bill Doleman Comcast/NBCU (Southwest)

Lisa Horne Fox Sports  (Pac-12)

Charles Davis Fox, Sports/NFL Network

(National)

Heather Dinich ESPN.com (East Coast/ACC)

Tom Shatel Omaha World Herald (Local)

Adam Rittenberg ESPN.com

(Midwest/National)

Bruce Feldman CBS Sports.com

(Pac-12/National)

Dennis Dodd CBS Sports.com  (Midwest)

Coley Harvey Orlando Sentinel  (Florida)

Gerry Dinardo BTN Former Head Coach

(Midwest/National)

Damon Benning Former College FB Player

Johnny Rodgers wil also recieve a vote along with the previous winners

 

The dances, along with his footwear, made Johnson popular among Oilers fans.As a kick returner, Johnson returned five punts for touchdowns, along with two kickoffs, in his first four years with the Oilers, and added 12 more touchdowns on offense. He was selected to the Pro Bowl as a kick returner in 1975, and was named MVP of the game, during which he returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown. He made another Pro Bowl appearance in 1977. In 1978, he suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss most of the next two seasons and lingered with him for the rest of his career. When he returned in 1980, he was no longer the kick returner, serving only as a backup wide receiver.

 

CFL and the Atlanta Falcons

Johnson played the 1981 season in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes, where he was a star on a team that went 3-13; he caught 65 passes for 1,060 yards and 5 touchdowns, and returned 59 punts for 597 yards (fellow NFL players Vince Ferragamo, James Scott and David Overstreet were teammates. He returned to the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons in 1982. In 1983, he doubled as a full-time kick returner, where he scored his sixth career touchdown on a punt return, and starting wide receiver, leading the team in receptions. Johnson earned his third Pro Bowl berth that season. He missed most of 1984 due to injury, and was benched as a return man in 1985. He was also forced to curtail his end zone dances after the NFL instituted a rule against "excessive and premeditated celebration". However, he led the Falcons in receptions and receiving yards that season. Another injury in 1986 was the beginning of the end for Johnson, and he retired after the 1987 season, although he briefly un-retired to play one game for the Washington Redskins in 1988. He remains the only man selected to the National Football League 75th Anniversary All-Time Team not in the Hall of Fame.

‚Äč

Year             Name                                          Team                              Position

2018 LEGACY AWARD WINNER

2018        Billy Johnson                        Widener                    WR

2017        Rick Upchurch                     Minnesota                RB

2016        Joe Washington                     OU                            RB

2015        Paul Allen                               BYU                             RB

2014        Pat Fischer                             UNL                           RB

2013        Billy Cannon                           LSU                             RB

Media Voting Panel

Blair Kerkoff KC Star (Midwest)        George Schroeder USA Today (Pacific NW)

Cedric Golden Austin American Statesman (Texas)

Bill Doleman Comcast/NBCU (Southwest)

Lisa Horne Fox Sports  (Pac-12)

Charles Davis Fox, Sports/NFL Network (National)

Heather Dinich ESPN.com (East Coast/ACC)

Tom Shatel Omaha World Herald (Local)

Adam Rittenberg ESPN.com (Midwest/National)

Bruce Feldman CBS Sports.com (Pac-12/National)

Dennis Dodd CBS Sports.com (Midwest)

Coley Harvey Orlando Sentinel (Florida)

Gerry Dinardo BTN Former Head Coach

(Midwest/National)

Damon Benning Former College FB Player

Johnny Rodgers wil also recieve a vote along with the previous winners

THE JET AWARD VOTING SELECTION PROCESS

 

To be considered for the Jet Award, players must be a Division 1 college football team member and meet the following qualifications:

  • Be a primary return specialist (Kick or Punt returner) for their team.
  • Be among the national leaders in return categories
  • Show leadership, courage, desire, respect for authority and discipline.

The first round of voting should be conducted in late September and early October. From that first round of votes, the list of 12 semifinalists will be created and released at the end of October. The second round of voting will take place in mid-October to form the list of four finalists.  A final vote in early December to determine the winner and the decision is announced at the Award Presentation.

Damon Benning, (Lead Voting Panelist) was a four year letterman who helped lead the Huskers to back-to-back national titles. He finished his career carrying the pigskin 270 times for a total of 1,562 yards. Benning also caught the ball 12 times for a total of 134 yards and returned 32 kickoffs for 770 yards. He finished his Husker career with 2,625 all-purpose yards. Due to his outstanding career, Benning was signed as a free-agent by the Carolina Panthers in 1997. Currently Benning focuses his attention on The Sharp & Benning in the Morning on 1620 The Zone.

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