Chris Johnson Uses Retirement to Complete College Degree

David Boclair

Chris Johnson made the grade in the NFL more than a decade ago.

Now, he has done the same in the classroom.

The former Tennessee Titans running back announced this week that he earned his degree from East Carolina University, although his take on the achievement was that it was little more than quid pro quo.

“If they’re going to use you for your talent, you use them for their education,” he wrote.

Johnson was a full-time student-athlete and majored in communications at East Carolina from 2004-08. The Titans took him with the 24th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and he led the team in rushing in six straight years.

In 2009, Johnson led the NFL and became the sixth running back in NFL history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season when he finished with 2,006. Along the way he tied an NFL record with 125 rushing yards or more in six straight games and became the only player ever with three touchdown runs of 85 yards or more (he did it in a span of 10 games).

That same year, Johnson set an NFL single-season record, which still stands, 2,509 yards from scrimmage.

He spent six seasons with Tennessee and rushed 7,695 yards with 50 touchdowns and caught 272 passes for 2,003 yards and eight touchdowns. He trails only Eddie George (10,009 yards) and Earl Campbell (8,574 yards) on the franchise’s career rushing list.

After Tennessee, he spent one season with the New York Jets and three with the Arizona Cardinals. He ranks 35th in NFL history with 9,651 career rushing yards and 66th in career yards from scrimmage with 11,906.

His last NFL game was Oct. 8, 2017. A little more than a year ago, he signed a one-day contract and retired as a member of the Titans.