- Billy Johnson (American football)
birthdate=birth date and age|1952|1|27
Pro Bowlselection (1975, 1977, 1983)
All-Proselection (1975, 1977, 1983)
NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
NFL 1980s All-Decade Team
NFL Comeback Player of the Year
Pro Bowl MVP
William Arthur Johnson, aka "White Shoes", (born
January 27, 1952in Boothwyn, Pennsylvania) was an American footballplayer in the National Football Leaguefrom 1974 through 1988. He is widely famous for his elaborate celebrations in the end zone.
Johnson earned his famous nickname as a high schooler at
Chichester High Schoolin Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, where he was painting a fence with white paint and spilled some of the paint on his new shoes. 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 IIIschool, where he was a member of Alpha Sigma PhiFraternity. While there, he had a highly successful career, but was barely noticed by pro scouts. He was eventually discovered by the Houston Oilers, who selected him in the 15th round of the 1974 NFL Draft.
Pro Football career
Despite the late selection, he managed to make the squad as a
kick returner. Eventually, his speed and quickness became an occasional part of an 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. The dance, along with his footwear, made Billy Johnson very popular among Oilers fans.
As a kick returner, Johnson returned 5 punts for touchdowns, along with 2 kickoffs, in his first 4 years with the Oilers, and added 12 more TDs on offense. He was selected to the
Pro Bowlas a kick returner in 1975, and was named MVP of the game, during which he ran a punt back 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
A year in the
Canadian Football Leaguewith the Montreal Alouettesfollowed in 1981, then he resurfaced with the Atlanta Falconsin 1982. In 1983, he doubled as a full time kick returner, where he scored his 6th career touchdown on a punt return, and starting wide receiver, leading the team in receptions. Johnson earned his 3rd Pro Bowl berth that season. He missed most of 1984 to injury, and was benched as a returnman in 1985. However, he did lead the Falcons in receptions and receiving yards that season. Another injury in 1986 began to signal the beginning of the end for White Shoes, and he retired after the 1987 season, although he briefly unretired to play one game for the Washington Redskinsin 1988.
In 1994, White Shoes was selected as the punt returner on the
NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. His days at Widener have also earned him a selection into the College Football Hall of Fame.
* [http://www.databasefootball.com/players/playerpage.htm?ilkid=JOHNSBIL06 Career Stats]
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