Billy "White Shoes" Johnson (24) briefly starred in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes.Former NFL star Chad Johnson's signing with the Montreal Alouettes Thursday sparked discussion of how unusual it is for veteran NFL players (and receivers in particular) to head to Canada. There are plenty of CFL players with one or two years of minimal NFL experience, and there are plenty who go on from the CFL to NFL success, but it's rare to see guys who were once established NFLers trying to catch on up north; guys who have been NFL stars don't often want to continue in football at the CFL's much-lower salaries, and CFL teams often prefer to bring in younger unknowns. That's especially true at the receiver positions, which is what makes Johnson's move so unusual. However, there is precedent, and one of the best previous examples comes from a (non-related) guy with the same last name who went to the same CFL city: Billy "White Shoes" Johnson.
Billy Johnson fit the typical model of guys overlooked by the NCAA and NFL, as his 5'9'', 170-pound stature caused many to overlook him. He wound up playing Division III football at Pennsylvania's Widener College, and although he starred there (eventually earning a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame), he was only taken in the 15th round of the 1974 NFL draft by the Houston Oilers. That didn't stop him from becoming a NFL star, though. From the CFL Scrapbook:Read More »from The other Johnson: could Chad follow the path set by Billy “White Shoes” Johnson in Montreal?