Biography: Charley Johnson, QB

Charley Johnson
Denver Broncos quarterback Charley Johnson (12) prepares to take the snap from center Bobby Maples (50) during an NFL game against the Los Angeles Rams, Nov. 12, 1972. The Broncos defeated the Rams 16-10 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. (AP Photo/NFL Photos)
Charley Johnson was one of three inductees into the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame in 1986 along with fellow quarterback Frank Tripucka and defensive end Paul Smith.

Johnson came to Denver in 1972 from Houston in exchange for a third-round draft choice, and the trade at that time was regarded as the most important in franchise history. He quarterbacked the Broncos to their first winning season (7-5-2 in 1973), a landmark moment in the first 14 years of club annals. Johnson set a Broncos record for passing accuracy in 1974 by completing 55.7 percent of his attempts. He made the All-AFC team picked by UPI and Pro Football Weekly after the 1973 season while being chosen by his teammates as the Broncos’ most valuable offensive player.

Johnson once threw for 445 yards in a game (vs. Kansas City, 11/18/74), marking the second-highest single-game passing total in team history at the time, and recorded four 300-yard passing games for his career. He also threw a touchdown pass in 10 consecutive games from 1973-74. He finished his Broncos career with 7,238 passing yards, which currently rank ninth in team history, and 52 touchdown passes, which currently rank seventh in club annals. He had a 20-18-3 (.524) record as a starter with Denver and averaged an impressive 7.46 yards per pass attempt.

A draft choice of the St. Louis Cardinals, Johnson played his first professional season with that club in 1961 and set many passing records during nine years with the team. He was traded to Houston before the 1970 season and was with the Oilers for two years before joining the Broncos.

Johnson was a star quarterback at New Mexico State University, where he led his team to two Sun Bowl titles.