- Rob Johnson (American football)
birthdate=birth date and age|1973|3|18
Newport Beach, California
Tampa Bay Buccaneers(2002)
New York Giants(2006) *:*Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Super Bowl XXXVIIchampion
college footballat the University of Southern Californiawhere he was teammates with Keyshawn Johnson, Curtis Conway, Johnnie Morton, Willie McGinest, and All Americatackle and fellow Jacksonville Jaguarsdraftee Tony Boselli. Johnson left USC holding virtually ever major passing record and spent much of his senior year as a Heisman Trophycandidate. In his final game for the school, Johnson led his team to victory in the Cotton Bowl, dominating Texas Tech by a final score of 55-14.
Johnson joined the NFL in 1995 as the first draft pick of the second day, #99 overall. Many were surprised Johnson slipped so far considering his standout college career.
Johnson spent his first two seasons with Jacksonville on the bench behind
Steve Beuerleinand later, star QB Mark Brunell. Johnson did not start a game until 1997; where in Week 1 against the Ravens, he completed 20 of 24 passes for 294 yards and 2 touchdowns and ran for 31 yards and one touchdown on four attempts in a 28-27 triumph. It proved that his years with the team served him well, as he guided his team to victory, and in the process, had the highest completionpercentage of any QB in their debut game. An ankle injury slowed Johnson soon after, and Brunell was good to go, but the seed had been planted league-wide: Rob Johnson was one of the top young QBs in football. After another successful season by Brunell, Johnson was deemed expendable, and shopped around the league.
Rob Johnson was obtained by the
Buffalo Billsin 1998 after three years as a backup for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bills gave a first and fourth round pick for Johnson; the first rounder became star RB Fred Taylor. Johnson started for Buffalo to start the 1998 season, and after a dismal 0-3 start, led the Bills to an impressive victory over the then-powerhouse San Francisco 49ers, out-dueling the great Steve Young. However, an injury soon after paved the way for the comeback of Doug Flutie, and for years to come, the two would battle over the starting job, dividing the team in the process.
By the end of Johnson's Buffalo career, he held the NFL record for most sacks per passing attempt, in the process earning the nickname "Robo-sack" due to his reluctance to throw the ball away. Johnson also holds the Bills' franchise record for completion percentage and pass-to-interception ratio, besting the likes of
Jack Kempand Jim Kelly. When healthy, Johnson played above-average, but overall, he will go down as one of the bigger busts in Buffalo sports history.
Johnson was the starter in one of Buffalo's most infamous sports moments when the Bills traveled to Tennessee for Wild Card Weekend. Johnson had an up-and-down game, giving up a safety early, but leading his team down the field late in the game against the #1 defense in football - with one shoe - to set up a
Steve Christiefield goal with :16 left. The play to follow saw Frank Wychecklateral the ball to Kevin Dysonen route to a stunning 75 yard game-winning touchdown. This one play began the downward spiral of both Johnson's career and the success of the Bills, who have yet to play a playoff game since.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After a dismal 2001 campaign that saw Johnson miss half the season with a broken
clavicle, Johnson signed on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneersfor the 2002 season, a team which, under new head coach Jon Gruden, was looking for a mobile signal caller in the mold of Gruden's former superstar Rich Gannon. Many thought that Johnson fit that mold - a veteran with arm strength and the ability to roll out, which incumbent Brad Johnson lacked. However, Rob lacked the other Johnson's pocket presence, decisiveness, and accuracy, prompting Gruden to name him the backup. When Brad Johnson got injured versus the Philadelphia Eagles, Rob Johnson led the Buccaneers to a defense-filled 9-6 victory over the Carolina Panthersthe following week. After being benched for the returning Brad Johnson the following week, however, Rob's subpar play in practice led Gruden to try out veteran and fan favorite Shaun Kingseveral weeks later following another Brad Johnson injury. King played so poorly against the Pittsburgh Steelers, throwing three interceptions (one of which was returned for a touchdown) versus only five completions that Rob Johnson started the second half, leading the Buccaneers to a late touchdown drive but failing to spark a comeback. The following week, with a first-round playoff bye on the line, Johnson led the Buccaneers to five field goals against the Chicago Bearsat the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium for the franchise's first-ever victory when the kickoff temperature was 27 degrees. For the third time at the controls of the Buccaneers, Johnson didn't turn the ball over. In the end, Johnson did not become the quarterback Gruden was hoping for, but was a contributing factor to the Super Bowl title nonetheless.
When it became obvious that Brad Johnson was entrenched in Tampa following the Super Bowl win, Rob met with
Dallas Cowboysofficials, but ultimately signed to the Washington Redskins, although he had trouble cracking the starting lineup and escaping past woes. In a regular season game in 2003 vs the Buffalo Bills, while a member of the Washington Redskins, Johnson was called into the game after starting quarterback Patrick Ramseywas injured. He entered the game to a chorus of boos from the crowd at Ralph Wilson Stadiumand was sacked by Aaron Schobelon his second play of the game, sending the crowd into a frenzy. The very next day, owner Daniel Snyderreinforced his haphazard decision-making by terminating Johnson's contract and replacing him with free agent Tim Hasselbeck.
Soon after his release, Johnson was signed by the
Oakland Raidersto help ease their QB woes. Among the likes of Rick Mirerand Tee Martin, Johnson saw playing time on a " Monday Night Football" game against the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay steamrolled Oakland and Johnson. His last pass attempt was directed at the legendary Jerry Rice, but it fell incomplete. Following the season, Oakland still owned the rights to Johnson; however, he did not return with the team and the Raiders cleared his roster spot.
Apparent end of NFL career
Following his release, Johnson underwent
Tommy John surgery, a procedure usually performed on baseball pitchers. A tendon was taken from Johnson's wrist and transplanted into his elbow to replace the injured tendon that resembled "a frayed rope" from overuse. A year after his surgery, Johnson worked out for the Tennessee Titans, but was clearly still not in game shape; reports suggested his arm strength was under 50%. A year later, however, Johnson tried out for, and was signed by, the New York Giantsand battled for a backup spot behind Eli Manning. Johnson once again lost out to Tim Hasselbeckhowever, and was cut before the preseason came to an end. Johnson said if he felt he could still play at an NFL level, he would continue his career, but he has yet to work with any other teams, presumably calling an end to his career.
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