College Football – Looking Back on Johnny Rodgers’ Career

In football today we talk a lot about “all purpose” yards, but that term probably got its origin with the exploits of Johnny Rodgers, the 1972 Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Nebraska. Rodgers was truly a multiple threat on the football field, lining up as a wide receiver, running back, and kick returner for the dynamic Husker teams which he helped lead to national championships in 1970 and 1971.

In three years, Rodgers posted the astounding total of 6059 all-purpose yards, and set an NCAA record with nine kick returns for touchdowns in his career. Rodgers seemed to be at his most brilliant in the big games – his 72-yard punt return for a touchdown kicked off the scoring in the ballyhooed “Game of the Century” between #1 Nebraska and #2 Oklahoma in 1971 (a 35-31 Nebraska win), and in the next season’s Orange Bowl, he returned another punt 77 yards for a score as the Cornhuskers won the national title by routing Alabama 38-6 in yet another #1 vs. #2 game.

But one of his greatest single performances, and one of the great displays in college football history, came in the 1973 Orange Bowl against Notre Dame, Rodgers’ last game, when he ran for three touchdowns, caught a pass for a fourth, and THREW for a fifth, as Nebraska rolled over the Irish, 40-6. With Rodgers, Nebraska compiled a 32-2-2 record from 1970 to 1972, winning three Big Eight titles, three bowl games, and the two national crowns.

A two-time All-American, Rodgers capped off his career by winning the Heisman Trophy for the 1972 season, winning the voting in every region and scoring nearly three times as many first-place votes as second-place finisher Greg Pruitt of Oklahoma. Rodgers was the first receiver in the two-platoon era to win the award.

Bypassing the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, who had drafted him in the first round but didn’t offer enough money, Rodgers went to the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League, where he became the CFL’s Outstanding Rookie in 1973, the Jeff Russel Trophy winner (most outstanding player in East Division) in 1974 and ’75, and a CFL All-Star selection at both running back and wide receiver. He also was a member of Montreal’s 1974 Grey Cup championship team, which was coached by Marv Levy. บาคาร่า

Rodgers finally landed in San Diego in 1977, but spent only a couple of seasons with the Chargers, tearing up his knee in 1978, and bringing his football career to an unfortunate halt. But he eventually went back to get degrees in advertising and journalism from Nebraska, and became involved in several community projects in the Omaha area, including the Johnny Rodgers Youth Foundation, set up to foster youth programs, and offer support for youth job training and employment.

He also owns and operates JetWear Inc., a business which manufactures and distributes bedding products and novelty items which are licensed from various major universities.

Rodgers is still a very active participant in the Heisman ceremonies, and in fact, got married in the Heisman room of the Downtown Athletic Club. When the University of Nebraska’s All-Century team was announced, he was the leading vote-getter, in a star-studded cast that included Roger Craig, Mike Rozier, and Rich Glover. And the ultimate accolade came his way in 2000, when he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame along with John Elway, Dan Dierdorf, and Marcus Allen, among others.

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