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The New England Patriots tragically lost another member of their storied family, as former running back Andy Johnson passed away last Wednesday. Johnson passed away in Georgia at the age of 65 after fighting a long battle with illness.

Johnson was born on October 18, 1952 in Athens, Georgia. The Georgia native stayed in his home state for his collegiate career, playing quarterback for the Georgia Bulldogs. Johnson declared for the 1974 NFL Draft, and the New England Patriots selected the young passer with their fifth-round selection.

Despite being a quarterback in college, Johnson transferred to the running back position while with the Patriots. Johnson spent eight years with New England, recording 2,017 rushing yards on 491 attempts to go along with 1,807 yards on 161 receptions.

Johnson was the team’s primary rusher in 1976 and had a career year. In all, the former quarterback recorded a combined 1,042 yards en route to a Wild Card playoff berth. While Johnson became the backup in later years, he was part of one of the greatest running back tandems in league history.

The 1978 New England Patriots set an NFL record with a combined 3,165 rushing yards. Astonishingly, that record survived the test of time, and stands to this day. While Johnson wasn’t the leading force behind that unstoppable machine, he still made a sizable contribution. Serving as the change of pace back, Johnson put up 675 yards and three touchdowns on 147 rushing attempts.

Johnson is survived by his wife, Charlotte, and their three children; Kristy, Brent, and Brooke. Per the Patriots website, a visitation is scheduled on Saturday, May 19th at the Bernstein Funeral Home in Athens, GA. A graveside service is to be held on Sunday, May 20th at the Oconee Hill Cemetery. Everyone at the Last Word on Sports team sends prayers and condolences to the Johnson family during this tragic time.

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