Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Charles Johnson has died at age 50. His death was announced by his employer, Heritage High School in Wake Forest, South Carolina. His cause of death has not been released.
Johnson, a standout receiver at Colorado, was picked 17th overall by the Steelers in the 1994 NFL draft. He spent five seasons in Pittsburgh, having the best season of his career in 1996 when he tallied 1,008 yards on 60 catches. He also scored a career-high seven touchdowns in 1998, which would be his final season with the Steelers.
He joined the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999, spending two seasons playing for Andy Reid, who also joined the Eagles in 1999 as a first-time head coach. Johnson started all 16 games in 2000, ending the season with 56 catches and seven touchdowns, tying his career best. He moved on to the New England Patriots in 2001, where he won his first and only Super Bowl alongside young quarterback Tom Brady. Johnson joined the Buffalo Bills in 2002 for what would be his final NFL season.
Over Johnson’s nine-year career, he caught 354 passes for 4,606 yards and 24 touchdowns in 133 games.
Johnson, a native of San Bernardino, California, spent the last several years as the assistant athletic director at Heritage High School in Wake Forest, where he was surrounded by fellow NFL retirees. Dewayne Washington, who played for the Steelers from 1998 to 2003, serves as the head coach of the football team. Torry Holt and Willie Parker, who both played for the Steelers in the 2000s, are Washington’s assistants.