Gary Johnson (American football)

Gary Johnson (American Football)

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Gary Johnson (American football)

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Gary "Big Hands" Johnson (August 31, 1952 – August 4, 2010) was an American football player. He was a graduate of Charlotte Mitchell High School in Bossier City, Louisiana, and Grambling State University who played pro football from 1975 to 1985, the first nine years with the San Diego Chargers.

When Johnson was in the 8th grade, he wanted to pick up a basketball in his physical education class when his coach said, "Get your big hands off my basketball." The nickname "Big Hands" was born.

NFL career

Johnson was drafted in the 1st round with the 8th overall pick by the Chargers in 1975 and was named to the NFL All-Rookie team. In 1980 he led the NFL with 17½ sacks, which is still a Chargers' team record. That year, Johnson teamed with fellow 1975 Chargers' draftees Fred Dean and Louie Kelcher as the Chargers led the NFL in sacks (60). Johnson and Dean were named 1st-team All-Pro, with Kelcher being named 2nd-team All-Pro. The trio, along with Leroy Jones formed a defensive frontline that was locally nicknamed the Bruise Brothers, coined from a popular act at the time, The Blues Brothers.

Johnson again was named 1st team All-Pro in 1981, and was 2nd team All-Pro in 1982. He was on Pro Bowl teams from 1980 to 1983. Don "Air" Coryell's Chargers teams of that era are mostly remembered for its high-scoring, pass-oriented offense. The...
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