FORT LEE, N.J. -- Happy birthday to former New York Giant Ron Johnson, who turns 69 Monday!
Fort Lee lays claim to Johnson because he lived in the borough while playing for the New York Giants.
Johnson was born and raised in Detroit. His brother, Alex, excelled in both baseball in high school, and so did Ron, though Alex ultimately pursued baseball, signing with the Philadelphia Phillies out of high school.
Ron Johnson played football for the University of Michigan and had record-setting junior and senior years for the school, Big Ten and NCAA. In 1968, he set a NCAA record, rushing for 347 yards on 31 carries against Wisconsin.
In 1969, Johnson was a first-round draft selection of the Cleveland Browns, who moved him from halfback to fullback. He had an uninspiring season, and the team traded him to the Giants, where he excelled.
The Giants moved him back to his accustomed position of halfback, and in his first season there, he became the first rusher in the team's history to reach 1,000 yards. Johnson was out for most of the 1971 season due to injuries, but he was back at it the next season, again rushing for more than 1,000 yards.
He played with the Giants for another three seasons, then signed with the Cowboys, but he played no regular-season games with them.
In the early '80s, Johnson started Rackson, a food service company based in Totowa, which ultimately owned 13 Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises. In 1992, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and in 1992, he was named chairman of the National Football Foundation, which operates the College Football Hall of Fame.
Johnson was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in in 2008, and he's been living in a New Jersey residential care facility since 2011, as the New York Time detailed that year.
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