John Larry Jefferson (né Washington; born February 3, 1956) is a retired American football wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL). He was selected out of Arizona State University in the first round of the 1978 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He played three seasons in San Diego, where he became the first NFL player to gain 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first three seasons. He was traded to the Green Bay Packers after a contract dispute with the Chargers, and later finished his playing career with the Cleveland Browns.
|No. 83, 85|
|Born:||February 3, 1956|
|Height:||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Weight:||198 lb (90 kg)|
|High school:||Franklin D. Roosevelt|
|NFL Draft:||1978 / Round: 1 / Pick: 14|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
After graduating from Franklin D. Roosevelt High School in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas, Jefferson received a scholarship to attend Arizona State University. Jefferson played at Arizona State University from 1974 to 1977. Jefferson's breakout year occurred in his sophomore season (1975) when he led the Sun Devils with 52 receptions and 921 yards receiving on the way to a perfect 12-0 season and an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl, where he was also named Most Valuable Player. ASU finished second in the national polls, its highest ranking in history.
A consensus All-American selection in 1977 and two-time All-Western Athletic Conference pick, Jefferson concluded his career with an NCAA record 42 consecutive games with a reception. He remains the ASU leader in career receptions with 188 and career receiving yardage with 2,993. Recognized as Arizona Amateur Athlete of the Year in 1977, he was twice selected as the Sun Devils Most Valuable Player and led the team in receiving all four years. The 1977 campaign was the Sun Devils' last in the WAC; in 1978, ASU and their in-state archrival, the Arizona Wildcats, joined the Pacific-10 Conference.
Career Arizona State Statistics
- 1974: 30 receptions, 423 yards, 1 TD.
- 1975: 52 receptions, 921 yards, 6 TDs
- 1976: 48 receptions, 681 yards, 5 TDs
- 1977: 58 receptions, 968 yards, 8 TDs
- Totals: 188 receptions, 2,993 yards, 20 TDs
San Diego ChargersEdit
After his senior year at Arizona State, Jefferson was drafted fourteenth overall in the 1978 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. Jefferson made an immediate impact in the NFL, recording two or more touchdown receptions in five games, still an NFL rookie record.[failed verification] On Dec 4, he caught 7 passes for 155 yards and 1 touchdown, setting what is still the franchise rookie record for yards receiving in a single game. He finished his rookie season with 56 receptions for 1,001 yards and a league-leading 13 receiving touchdowns, which tied the NFL record for most receiving touchdowns by a rookie, and remains the Chargers franchise record. He set the Chargers' rookie record for yards receiving, which stood until Keenan Allen's 1,046 in 2013. Jefferson appeared on the cover of the August 20, 1979 issue of Sports Illustrated along with the heading "The Touchdown Man."
He was a consensus All-Pro in each of the next two seasons and led the NFL in receiving yards (1,340) and receiving touchdowns (13) in 1980. He became the first NFL player with at least 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first three seasons. In a September 14, 1980, overtime game against the Oakland Raiders, played in San Diego, Jefferson out-leaped Lester Hayes for a throw from Dan Fouts. Jefferson landed at about the Oakland 3-yard line. Hayes stood over Jefferson, stunned that Jefferson had taken the ball away while Jefferson rolled untouched into the end zone, sealing a 30-24 San Diego Chargers' overtime victory. While in San Diego, Jefferson also became known as the "Space-Age Receiver" due to the futuristic-looking goggles he wore. With his acrobatic catches and fiery enthusiasm before games, he became a fan favorite in San Diego. Jefferson caught a pass in 44 of his 45 regular season starts with San Diego. He did not catch a pass on September 16, 1979, against the Buffalo Bills, who double-teamed him. The Chargers did not target him on any pass plays, but the attention he drew instead helped the team rush for 245 yards.
Jefferson did not report to the Chargers in 1981 due to a contract dispute. He insisted that San Diego renegotiate his contract, contending that at least three other receivers in the league were paid more than him.
Green Bay PackersEdit
On September 17, 1981, the Chargers traded Jefferson to the Green Bay Packers after he stated the day before that he could not play for San Diego. With the Packers, Jefferson starred opposite future Pro Football Hall of Fame wideout James Lofton. Jefferson, Lofton, and tight end Paul Coffman teamed up with quarterback Lynn Dickey to give the Packers one of the most explosive passing attacks in the NFL at the time; however, a defense which hovered near the bottom of the league relegated Green Bay to three 8-8 finishes and a second-round playoff appearance during the strike-shortened 1982 season. Jefferson completed his career with the Cleveland Browns in 1985. Jefferson would appear in four Pro Bowls during his career. He, along with Charlie Joiner, Kellen Winslow and Wes Chandler (who replaced him on the Chargers) represented one of the most potent receiving corps of the early 1980s, known as Air Coryell. Jefferson was known for making spectacular catches with his body control and great hands.
Jefferson played his final season for the Cleveland Browns in 1985. In seven games, he had three receptions for 30 yards.
He has remained active in the football community; after retiring, Jefferson became an assistant coach at the University of Kansas and was the director of player development for the Washington Redskins until the end of the 2008–2009 season.
- Brooks, R. Lamar (February 24, 2011). "DISD Legends Series:"The Greatest" John Washington aka John Jefferson (Pt. 1)". Dallas South News. Archived from the original on December 7, 2016.
- See  for complete list.
- Smith, Rick (1981). 1981 San Diego Chargers Facts Book. San Diego Chargers. p. 39.
- Gehlken, Michael (December 29, 2013). "Keenan Allen sets record during win". U-T San Diego. Archived from the original on January 5, 2014.
- "Green Bay now boasts two of the NFL's best receivers". Times-Advocate. AP. September 18, 1981. p. C-1. Retrieved February 5, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Air Coryell" - Pro Football Hall of Fame
- "Jefferson deal finally sealed". The Vancouver Sun. Associated Press. September 23, 1981. p. F4. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
- Chad Finn's Touching All The Bases: San Diego Super Chargers!
- Moore, David Leon (January 11, 1981). "The men who get Air Coryell off the ground". The Sun. San Bernardino, Calif. p. D-4. Retrieved May 9, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Deitsch, Richard (August 17, 1998). "John Jefferson, San Diego Wide Receiver". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 23, 2008.
- Zimmerman, Paul (October 12, 2001). "NFL Mailbag – Dr. Z". CNNSI. Retrieved October 23, 2008.
- Jaworski, Ron (2010). The Games That Changed the Game: The Evolution of the NFL in Seven Sundays. Random House. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-345-51795-1.
- "BASEBALL". orlandosentinel.com. Orlando Sentinel. September 4, 1986. Retrieved January 31, 2020.