William Arthur Johnson (born January 27, 1952), better known as Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, is a former player who played in the (NFL) from 1974 through 1988. He was one of the first players to display elaborate celebrations in the .
Johnson earned his famous nickname as a high schooler at in , where he dyed his shoes as part of a dare. 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 in , a small school, where he was a member of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity. While there, he had a highly successful career, but was barely noticed by professional scouts. He was eventually discovered by the , who him in the 15th round of the .
Johnson made the squad as a , with his speed and quickness becoming an occasional part of the offense. As a rookie, he began celebrating with a dance known as the "Funky Chicken", a dance based on a song from soul singer . It was one of the first in league history. The dances, along with his footwear, made Johnson popular among Oilers fans.
As a kick returner, Johnson returned five punts for touchdowns, along with two kickoffs, in his first four years with the Oilers, and added 12 more touchdowns on offense. He was selected to the as a kick returner in 1975, and was named MVP of the game, during which he returned a punt 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
Johnson played the 1981 season in the with the , where he was a star on a team that went 3-13; he caught 65 passes for 1,060 yards and 5 touchdowns, and returned 59 punts for 597 yards (fellow NFL players , and were teammates.) He returned to the NFL with the in 1982. In 1983, he doubled as a full-time kick returner, where he scored his sixth career touchdown on a punt return, and starting wide receiver, leading the team in receptions. Johnson earned his third Pro Bowl berth that season. He missed most of 1984 due to injury, and was benched as a return man in 1985. He was also forced to curtail his end zone dances after the NFL instituted a rule against "excessive and premeditated celebration". However, he led the Falcons in receptions and receiving yards that season. Another injury in 1986 was the beginning of the end for Johnson, and he retired after the 1987 season, although he briefly un-retired to play one game for the in 1988.
He remains the only man selected to the National Football League 75th Anniversary All-Time Team not in the Hall of Fame.
Johnson is currently an assistant varsity football coach at in .
In 1994, Johnson was selected as the punt returner on the . His days at Widener have also earned him a selection into the .
During 1978, Johnson appeared in 25 games for the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Professional Slo-Pitch softball league, hitting four home runs with a batting average of .349.
- Victoria Advocate, March 29, 2010
- ^ Gutierrez, Paul (December 28, 2007). . . Retrieved September 1, 2016.
- Dufresne, Chris (September 26, 1985). . . Retrieved September 1, 2016.
- . Duluth High School Football. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- NFL 2001 Record and Fact Book, Workman Publishing Co, New York,NY, , p.401
- Crossley, Andy. . Fun While it Lasted. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
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