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Super Bowl champ Charles Johnson died by suicide, officials say

This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Charles Johnson, a former first-round NFL draft pick who won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots in 2001, died in July by suicide after an apparent drug overdose, according to a report from the North Carolina’s medical examiner’s office.

Johnson was found dead in a hotel room near his home in Raleigh on July 17 and was determined to have “acute oxycodone, hydrocodone and mirtazapine toxicity” when he died, according to USA Today. Officials said Johnson had no reported medical history nor was he prescribed anything at the time.

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New England’s Charles Johnson during the Pats’ 17-16 victory over the New York Jets at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(Bob Falcetti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The former wide receiver’s wife reported him missing the day before he was found dead. Officials said Johnson paid for the room on July 15, and returned home to get some items. Police found him lying on the bed of the hotel room unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to USA Today.

Johnson, 50, was serving as an assistant athletic director at Heritage High School in Wake Forest, North Carolina, according to WNCN-TV.

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Johnson with the No. 17 pick in the 1994 draft out of Colorado. He would later be paired up with his college teammate Kordell Stewart for a few seasons.

Charles Johnson of the Eagles rushes against the Dallas Cowboys at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Oct. 10, 1999.

Charles Johnson of the Eagles rushes against the Dallas Cowboys at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Oct. 10, 1999.
(Doug Pensinger/Allsport)

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Johnson played for the Steelers from 1994 to 1998. He had 247 catches for 3,400 yards and 15 touchdowns. Johnson had a breakout season in 1996 when he caught 60 passes for 1,008 yards with three touchdowns. He had seven touchdowns in 1998.

Johnson joined the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999 and played two seasons for them. He had 90 catches for 1,056 yards and eight touchdowns. He proved to be a reliable receiver for Donovan McNabb during his first two seasons.

Johnson joined the Patriots in 2001 and won a Super Bowl with the team at the same time quarterback Tom Brady was making his emergence in the NFL. Johnson last played for the Buffalo Bills in 2002 before stepping away from the game.

Wide receiver Charles Johnson of the Steelers talks to injured teammate Yancey Thigpen during a playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts at Three Rivers Stadium on Dec. 29, 1996, in Pittsburgh.

Wide receiver Charles Johnson of the Steelers talks to injured teammate Yancey Thigpen during a playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts at Three Rivers Stadium on Dec. 29, 1996, in Pittsburgh.
(George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

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Johnson finished his career with 354 catches for 4,606 yards and 24 touchdowns.


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