UCR Alumnus, Super Bowl Champion Butch Johnson to Speak on Feb. 8

NFL vet will reflect on his student experience and how UCR prepared him for his career

Butch Johnson

Butch Johnson ('76), former UCR football player and a member of the Dallas Cowboys' Super Bowl champion team in 1978.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — Former UC Riverside football star Butch Johnson, who went on to play with the Dallas Cowboys and make appearances in the 1978 and 1979 Super Bowls, is scheduled to speak on-campus on Wednesday, February 8 at 6 p.m. in HUB 302 as part of the campus’ Black History Month Celebration and the celebration of the 40th anniversary of African Student Programs at UCR.

The event is sponsored by African Student Programs, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and the UCR Alumni Association. The presentation is free and open to the public, but seating is limited and reservations are required. To RSVP for the event, please visit https://advancementservices.ucr.edu/ButchJohnson/. There is a charge of $5 for non-permit holders to park on campus. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

“To have a living legend such as Butch Johnson take time out of his busy schedule to be part of our Black History Month is epic,” said Ken Simons, director of African Student Programs at UCR. “In the history of African Student Programs there has never been an alumnus who has expressed an interest to assist our department like Mr. Johnson. The fact that he wants to engage with the campus is great and for him to be available for future engagements is monumental.”

WR Butch Johnson in a publicity shot from the 1974 UCR Football Team

Butch Johnson in a publicity shot of the 1974 UC Riverside football team.

Johnson credits his academic experience at UC Riverside for helping him to success in his career as a football player as well as a businessman, saying the education helped him with everything from memorizing a complicated playbook to managing a chain of restaurants.

“It’s very important that people realize what education can do for you, if you take advantage of it,” he said. “I went to the right school.”

Johnson came to UCR as a non-scholarship athlete out of Los Angeles’ Dorsey HS. He was a member of the final Highlanders’ football team, as the school dropped the program after the 1975 season. But Johnson made the most of the campaign, leading the nation with 67 catches for 1,027 yards in just eight games. He earned All-American honors and caught the eye of scouts for the Dallas Cowboys, who selected him in the third round (67th pick) of the 1976 draft.

In 1978’s Super Bowl XII, Johnson caught a 45-yard touchdown pass in the Cowboys’ 27-10 win over the Denver Broncos. The following year, in the Cowboys’ 35-31 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XIII, he scored again on a four-yard pass, becoming just the second player to score touchdowns in back-to-back Super Bowls. He holds the Cowboys’ records with 19 post-season punt returns and 208 return yards. Overall he led the team in punt returns and kickoff returns from 1976 through 1978.

Butch Johnson ('76)

Butch Johnson (’76) – Photo credit Mannatech, Inc.

Today, Johnson is the global senior director of community affairs and sports marketing for Mannatech, Inc, a Texas-based dietary supplement company that promotes health and a better quality of life. To many he is the “coach” for Team Mannatech and he spends a good portion of the year traveling the country and doing speaking engagements. He also has several development projects in the works around the nation.

“I hope anyone who attends the event are enlightened, inspired, encouraged and empowered to achieve excellence in all their endeavors and to be a positive motivating force in the lives of many,” Simons said. “I would like the youth to take away the notion that they can achieve their goals in life if they remain in school and make a commitment to excellence.”

African Student Programs was formed in 1972, growing out of variety of campus groups including the Black Student Union, Black Students United and Black Student Activities. ASP was seen as a natural gathering place for students of African descent and a resource for additional student services and support, something that continues to this day.

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