Pete Johnson Buckeye and Bengal Bruiser
Pete Johnson might have been a Georgia native, but he will forever been known as a bruising Buckeye State running back.
While sharing a back field for a part of his Ohio State career with two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, Johnson finished his collegiate career with 2,308 rushing yards and a school record 58 touchdowns. His 348 points was also a Buckeyes’ record until surpassed by kicker Mike Nugent’s 356 points in 2004.
Following his Ohio State career, he was selected in the second round of 1977 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.
During each of his seven seasons in Cincinnati he was the team’s leading rusher. His best season came in 1981 when he helped lead the Bengals to Super Bowl XVI. Johnson helped the team record its first ever playoff win by rushing for 45 yards, catching three passes for 23 yards and scoring a touchdown in the team’s 28-21 divisional victory over the Buffalo Bills. A week later in the AFC championship game, which was also known as the Freezer Bowl, Johnson rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown, to help defeat the San Diego Chargers 27-7. In the Bengals’ 26-21 Super Bowl loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Johnson was held to just 36 rushing yards.
That same season he was selected to his first and only Pro Bowl appearance.
Prior to the 1984 season, Johnson was traded to the San Diego Chargers in exchange for fellow running back James Brooks. He lasted only three games in San Diego, where he carried the ball just 19 times for 46 yards and three touchdowns. He quickly latched on with the Miami Dolphins where he ran the ball 68 times for 159 yards and nine touchdowns in the remaining 13 games of the regular season. Johnson retired after the season.
Following his playing days, Johnson operated a car leasing business in Columbus near Ohio State’s campus until was sentenced to three years probation in Champaign County, Ohio on one count of passing bad check to purchase a truck, according to the Dayton Daily News.