John Henry Johnson (November 24, 1929 – June 3, 2011) was a gridiron football running back known for his excellence at the fullback position as both a runner and a blocker. His first professional stint was in Canada in the Western Interprovincial Football Union (WIFU) for one season with the Calgary Stampeders. He then played in the National Football League (NFL) for the San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, and Pittsburgh Steelers before spending his final season in the American Football League (AFL) with the Houston Oilers. Commonly referred to as simply John Henry, an allusion to the folk hero of the same name, Johnson was a tough and tenacious player who performed at a high level well into the tail end of his career.
After playing college football for St. Mary's College of California and Arizona State, Johnson was drafted in the second round of the 1953 NFL Draft by the Steelers. He instead played one season of Canadian football for the Stampeders, in which he won the Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy as the league's most valuable player. He then signed with the 49ers, and played left halfback in San Francisco's famed "Million Dollar Backfield". He was traded to Detroit in 1957, and became the team's leading rusher en route to that year's NFL championship.
His abilities seemingly in decline, Johnson was traded to Pittsburgh in 1960, where he had the most productive years of his career, recording two 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He remains the oldest player to record a 1,000-yard rushing season as well as the oldest to rush for 200 or more yards in a game. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Johnson ranked third on the NFL's all-time rushing yards list when he retired, but was best remembered by his peers for the mark he left with his blocking. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.