Late Tuesday night, reports surfaced that former Steelers first-round draft pick Charles Johnson passed away at the age of 50. This per Pro Football Talk:
Former first-round draft pick Charles Johnson dies at 50. https://t.co/uhEJA1eOp8— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) July 20, 2022
Johnson was the 17th overall selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1994 draft out of Colorado. Two players from the University of Colorado were the first two draft picks by the Steelers in 1993 in Deon Figures and Chad Brown. The Steelers went back to Colorado in the 1994 draft to select the wide receiver. The next season, the Steelers followed it up with another selection from the University of Colorado in the second round in quarterback Kordell Stewart. So in a three-year span, the Steelers selected four our their top six draft picks on players from the University of Colorado.
Appearing in all 16 games of his rookie season with nine starts, Johnson had 38 receptions for 577 yards and three touchdowns in 1994. In 1995, a season where the Steelers made it all the way to the Super Bowl, Johnson only had 38 receptions for 432 yards and no touchdowns as he went on Injured Reserve the final game of the season and did not appear in the playoffs. Johnson came back from injury in 1996 with his only 1,000-yard receiving season where he had 60 receptions for 1,008 yards and three touchdowns. In five years with the Steelers, Johnson had 247 receptions for 3,400 yards and 15 touchdowns, seven of which came in his final season in Pittsburgh in 1998.
Johnson spent two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999 and 2000 where he had 90 receptions for 1,056 yards and eight touchdowns. Johnson played the 2001 season with the New England Patriots where he had 14 receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown and earned a Super Bowl ring. Johnson finished his NFL career with the Buffalo Bills in 2002 where he only had three receptions for 39 yards.
Reports of Johnson’s death first came from CBS 17 in Wake Forest, North Carolina. At this time, the cause of death is unknown.
At the time of his death, Charles Johnson was working as an assistant Athletic Director at Heritage High School in Wake Forest.
On behalf of Steelers’ Nation and Behind The Steel Curtain, we offer our condolences to the fiends and family of Charles Johnson.