Charles Johnson, Colorado Buffaloes standout and Pittsburgh Steelers first-round pick, dies at 50

Former NFL and Colorado Buffaloes wide receiver Charles Johnson has died at 50.

Johnson's death was confirmed by the University of Colorado. The cause of Johnson's death is unknown.

WNCN-TV in Raleigh reported Wednesday that police found a body in a hotel room Sunday during a welfare check at a Hampton Inn and Suites and that a preliminary investigation indicated no signs of foul play.

After a standout collegiate career at Colorado, Johnson was a first-round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After being selected with the No. 17 overall pick in the 1994 draft, Johnson went on to play nine NFL seasons, playing five years with the Steelers, two with the Philadelphia Eagles, one with the New England Patriots and spending his final season of 2002 with the Buffalo Bills. Johnson was a member of the Steelers team that advanced to Super Bowl XXX and the Patriots team that won Super Bowl XXXVI.

“Words simply can’t explain or identify who C.J. was to many,” said former quarterback Kordell Stewart, Johnson’s Colorado and Pittsburgh teammate. “I’m not sure how to process this properly — we’ve been friends for over 30 years — but just know C.J. will be missed. My heart goes out to Tanisha (his wife), their kids and family. May God bless them and keep them during these trying times.”

Johnson had a career-best 1,008 yards receiving in 1996, and posted a career-high seven touchdown receptions twice — in 1998 with the Steelers and 2000 with the Eagles. He finished his NFL career with 4,606 yards and 24 touchdowns receiving.

At Colorado, Johnson posted 1,000-yard seasons in both his junior and senior years.

"I was shocked and very distraught hearing the news about CJ. He was a great person, teammate, and had a infectious personality," Colorado head football coach Karl Dorrell said in a statement released on social media. "He wore the pride and tradition of the Buffaloes on his sleeve. One of the best competitors I’ve coached at the WR position. Rest In Peace CJ."

Contributing: The Associated Press

Charles Johnson played five seasons for the Steelers from 1994-98.
Charles Johnson played five seasons for the Steelers from 1994-98.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Charles Johnson, a first-round pick by the Steelers, dies at 50