FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of former Patriots running back Andy Johnson. Johnson passed away in Georgia early Wednesday morning following a long illness.
Born October 18, 1952, Johnson was drafted by the New England Patriots in the fifth round (112th overall) of the 1974 NFL Draft out of Georgia. He spent eight seasons with the Patriots before finishing his professional football career with the USFL's Boston Breakers in 1983.
Johnson totaled 491 rushing attempts for 2,017 yards (4.1 avg.) and 13 rushing touchdowns and caught 161 passes for 1,807 yards and nine touchdowns during his Patriots career. Johnson's best season was in 1976 when he scored 10 touchdowns and had 1,042 combined yards rushing and receiving while the Patriots finished second in the AFC East and qualified for the playoffs. He was also part of the 1978 Patriots team that set an NFL record with 3,165 rushing yards on the season, a record that still stands today. Johnson contributed that season with 147 rushes for 675 yards (4.6 avg.) and three touchdowns.
Prior to playing for the Patriots, Johnson starred at quarterback for the Georgia Bulldogs, where he led Georgia to two bowl victories during his sophomore and senior seasons and set the SEC record for most rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,799. Johnson also competed on the Georgia baseball team for three years, compiling a .281 career batting average.
A gifted athlete, Johnson was an All-America quarterback on an Athens (Ga.) High School team that was class AAA state champions. He was also all-region in basketball, baseball and competed in track. Johnson was drafted by the Atlanta Braves as a shortstop, but chose to attend the University of Georgia on a football scholarship. He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.
Johnson is survived by his wife Charlotte and three children; Kristy, Brent and Brooke. A visitation is scheduled on Saturday, May 19, from 3-5 p.m. at Bernstein Funeral Home in Athens, Ga. A graveside service will be held on Sunday, May 20, at 3:30 p.m. at the Oconee Hill Cemetery in Athens, Ga.