Former NFL player visits UCR, his alma mater

Wendy Montero/HIGHLANDER

Butch Johnson, former UC Riverside football player and Superbowl-winning wide receiver from the Dallas Cowboys, came to his alma mater last Wednesday to motivate students. African Student Programs (ASP) hosted the event to celebrate ASP’s 40th anniversary and Black History Month.

“Who is this old guy? And what does he have to say?” mocked Johnson when he first came on-stage. He was accompanied by two of his brothers, his sister and his aunt. Johnson explained that in the last 140 years, there have been 600 million high school players, 20 million college players–but only 250,000 professional American Football players since 1902. In the NFL there have been 18,000 men who have played in a game, 250 of whom have played ten years or more. Butch Johnson holds the honor of being among the later group of athletes.

Johnson’s point was that more people don’t reach the next level because they aren’t willing to do the work.

“He came back and delivered a message about focus, engaging in the moment, and hard work. I think those are such powerful messages. To know his background, where he came from, where he has been and where he’s going. I think we all can take something from that kind of inspiration,” said Chancellor White.

Who knew unicycles and work ethic were one and the same? Johnson told audience members that he taught himself how to ride a unicycle during his youth. Johnson’s story illustrates his firm belief in the power of self-determination and commitment to one’s goals. Chancellor White was certainly appreciative of this message, given that he knew how to ride a unicycle during his youth as well.

Mr. Johnson played for three NFL teams, appeared in five NFC Championships and was the first player to ever score touchdowns in two consecutive Super Bowls. He is currently the global senior director of community affairs and sports marketing for Mannatech, Inc.

“Where they’re at right now is very brief period of time. In that period, if you don’t take advantage of every single day, in a couple years, you’re going to wish you did. Everyday there is no excuse why you can’t work, or why you can’t be there, or why you can’t go to class, or why you can’t study this book. Do your work. Take advantage of your time,” stated Johnson in an interview with the Highlander. His message was, “Once you know where you’re at, you’re out!” He had the audience repeat this back to him to make sure it stuck.

All who have been to the bookstore have seen the shirts that say, “UCR Football undefeated since 1976.” The football program disappeared because of lack of interest, although exactly who’s interest was not specified according to UC Riverside’s website. Yet, in 1960 UC Riverside was led through an undefeated season by quarterback Pete Kettela, and Nick Goldware, the university quarterback of 1968, was ranked seventh in the nation among small college quarterbacks.

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