Charles Johnson, former New England Patriots wide receiver and member of the 2001 Super Bowl squad, died at 50. His body was found in a Raleigh, North Carolina, hotel room on Sunday, July 17, CBS 17 first reported on July 19. His cause of death was unknown as of July 20.
Johnson was a college football star at Colorado and was selected in the first round of the 1994 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Johnson played nine seasons in the NFL, sticking with the Steelers for five seasons and then playing for two with the Philadelphia Eagles and one with the Patriots. He played his final season in 2002 with the Buffalo Bills.
During his lone season with the Patriots, Johnson played in 14 games, starting in two of them. Johnson made 14 receptions for 111 yards and 1 touchdown. Johnson’s best season in the NFL came in 1996, when he made 60 receptions for 1,008 yards and 3 touchdowns for Pittsburgh.
Johnson helped pushed the Steelers to the divisional round of the AFC Playoffs that season before they were defeated by the Patriots 28-3.
Johnson is the second former Patriots WR and Super Bowl champion to die in the past year. David Patten, a three-time Super Bowl winner with the Patriots, died in September 2021.
Former Teammates & Friends Honor Johnson
Johnson had been serving as the assistant athletic director at Heritage High School in Wake Forest, North Carolina. The Heritage Huskies posted a tribute to Johnson on Twitter following the news of his death, writing, “RIP Coach. You will be missed by so many, especially your Husky Family.”
Former teammates, coaches and media members also paid their respects to Johnson after his death. Former Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe wrote of his old teammate, “Loved CJ. He brought happiness to practice every day.”
Another former Patriots teammate, safety Lawyer Milloy, sent the prayers emoji.
Current Colorado football head coach Karl Dorrell wrote that he was “shocked and very distraught” at the news of Johnson’s death. “He was a great person, teammate, and had a infectious personality. … One of the best competitors I’ve coached at the WR position,” he wrote.
The CU Buffs Stats Twitter page shared one of Johnson’s pro highlights from his days with the Steelers. In the video, Johnson catches an absolute bomb from former Colorado star Kordell Stewart for a TD.
The Steelers’ official Twitter account shared their own tribute to Johnson.
Patriots Dynasty posted a video of a young Tom Brady finding Johnson for a tough TD grab in a regular-season game against the New Orleans Saints. Johnson shows some toughness as he takes a hit at the goal line but still holds on for the score.
Johnson ranks sixth all-time in Colorado history in receiving yards with 2,447. He’s ninth in TD receptions with 15.
Patriots Notes & Quotes
Wonder what’s happening with 2020 third-round draft pick Devin Asiasi? He’s still a member of the Patriots roster, and on July 20 he posted a message on Twitter to friends, family and others of Samoan and Tongan descent.
“To all my Tokos and all my Usos! Chase that mf dream down, break those walls down, break those family cycles, and show out every time! I dream of the day I see my people in every space of this world,” he wrote. “Representation is everything to our youth! Proud of my roots.”
The 2022 season is going to be a big one for Asiasi. After two disappointing seasons in the NFL, Asiasi needs to prove he can be an impact player in the NFL. He’s likely the third tight end behind Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith heading into training camp.
However, injuries can change things quickly. Also, Smith didn’t play well in 2021. If he has another tough season or even an unimpressive training camp, the Patriots might be looking to allow Asiasi an opportunity.
The soon-to-be-25-year-old must be ready to take advantage of the opportunity.
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