Olympic gold medalist, University of Texas standout and former New York Jets wide receiver Johnny “Lam” Jones died Friday morning after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 60 years old.
“He will be sorely missed but certainly not forgotten,” Texas football coach Tom Herman said Friday in a spring-football news conference.
Jones was a high-school legend in the state who went on to become a multi-sport star at Texas and, later, the No. 2 overall pick in the 1980 draft.
A native of Lampasas, Texas — which led Texas football coaches to first call him “Lam” in the late 1970s — Jones also won an Olympic gold medal at the 1976 Summer Games when he was just a teenager, running the second leg in the 400-meter relay.
In Austin, his speed made him a popular crossover athlete, starring both on the football field and on the track.
“People came to the Texas Relays — I’m talking about football fans — to see Lam Jones run, to see the icon on stage,” former Texas track coach James Blackwood told The San Angelo Standard-Times. “He took track, as a sport, up a notch. I had parents calling me about wanting their sons to quit other sports and focus on track, all because of Lam Jones and what he was doing.”
Eventually, though, Jones wound up in football. He was drafted No. 2 overall by the Jets, who gave him a six-year, $2.1-million contract — an NFL-record salary at the time. He caught 138 passes for 2,322 yards and 13 touchdowns in his NFL career.
Contributing: Paul Harris of The Angelo Standard-Times
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