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Death of Former Steelers WR Charles Johnson Ruled a Suicide

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Steelers WR Charles Johnson

The sudden death of former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Charles Johnson over the summer has been ruled a suicide, according to a report by Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today.

Johnson died on July 17. The 50-year-old former Steelers and Colorado Buffaloes star was found dead in a Raleigh, North Carolina hotel room. A California native,. Johnson had settled in North Carolina after his playing career.

A report obtained from the North Carolina medical examiner’s office said that Johnson had been behaving erratically and purchased funeral services before leaving his home and checking into a hotel room, where he was later found dead. A toxicity screen found oxycodone, hydrocodone and mirtazapine in his system.

Johnson was selected 17th overall in the 1994 NFL Draft by the Steelers out of Colorado. From 1994 to 1998, Johnson suited up alongside Yancey Thigpen for the Steelers. During that time, he racked up 3,400 receiving yards and topped over one thousand yards in the 1996 season. In those years, he amassed over 100 receptions twice and was an explosive threat for the Steelers’ offense downfield.

After his time in Pittsburgh, Johnson had stints with the Eagles, Patriots, and Bills, He became a Super Bowl Champion with the Patriots in 2001. In total, Johnson played nine NFL seasons and caught 354 passes for 4,606 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns.

Johnson sued the Steelers in 2009, claiming permanent injuries and problems with hearing and sleep thanks to his playing career. The Steelers settled the lawsuit for $150,000 in 2013, according to California court documents, after Johnson was declared permanently disabled by independent medical examination.  

In his retirement, Johnson remained heavily involved in athletics. He became the assistant athletic director at Heritage High School in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He, along with former Steelers running back Willie Parker, ex-NFL wide receiver Torry Holt, and former NFL running back Dewayne Washington, teamed up to take on the job at the high school.

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