The New Orleans Saints family lost one of their own. Former linebacker Vaughan Johnson died at age 57 on Thursday night in North Carolina. Johnson had been battling lung and kidney problems for years before succumbing to kidney disease.
Vaughan Johnson was a star linebacker at North Carolina State before being drafted in the first round of the NFL Supplemental draft in 1984. He elected to join the Jacksonville Bulls of the U.S.F.L. instead, where he was one of that league’s top defensive players from 1984 to 85.
Johnson joined the Saints after the U.S.F.L. folded in 1986, joining several star players and coaches from the fledgling league. He teamed with Rickey Jackson, Sam Mills, and Pat Swilling to form the famed “Dome Patrol”, one of the most fearsome Corps of Linebackers in NFL History.
Johnson was a star at Inside Linebacker for one of the era’s most intimidating defenses. He was elected to the Pro Bowl in four consecutive seasons from 1989 to 92 and was one of the most respected players at his position. Johnson was known best for his powerful tackling ability but was a skilled sideline to sideline defender. In an eight-year career with New Orleans that spanned from 1986 to 1993 he tallied 12 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, and 4 interceptions. He was elected to the New Orleans Saints team Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.
Vaughan Johnson was one of the key members of the first successful period of New Orleans Saints football. Our prayers go out to his family and friends at his sad passing.