In 2008 Johnson saw the emergence of Shiancoe as a top-tier NFL TE. Shiancoe led the NFC and tied for 3rd among TEs in the NFL with 7 TD receptions. The 7 scores came up just 1 shy of the Vikings single-season record for TEs held by Joe Senser (8 in 1981). Shiancoe set new career highs in all major statistical categories with 42 receptions for 596 yards to go along with his 7 TDs. He also had a day for the records books, when he tied the Vikings single-game scoring mark for a TE with 2 TDs and matched the 2nd best effort by a Vikings TE with 136 yards vs. Atlanta (12/21/08). While Shiancoe racked up the accolades through the air, Kleinsasser continued to show his value in the running game as he helped pave the way for Adrian Peterson to finish the year as the NFL’s rushing king and earn in his 2nd Pro Bowl berth in as many seasons. Peterson set records for single-season rushing yards (1,760) and games of 100+ yards (10) en route to becoming the 1st Viking to lead the NFL in rushing.
In 2007, Kleinsasser and Shiancoe assisted the Vikings record-setting rushing attack and contributed in the passing game. In Shiancoe’s 1st season with the Vikings, he finished with career highs in every category as he hauled in 27 receptions for 323 yards and 1 TD. He caught the longest pass by a Vikings’ TE in team history, a 79-yarder on a reverse by WR Sidney Rice. Kleinsasser, who was recognized for his unselfish blocking with a spot on the USA Today’s All-Joe Team, added 4 catches for 43 yards and a TD.
In 2006, Johnson’s TE corps helped newly-acquired Taylor run for 1,214 yards in his 1st season as a full-time starter. Taylor’s total ranked as the 4th-highest single-season mark in Vikings’ history. Jermaine Wiggins tied for 2nd on the team with 46 receptions.
During his 10 NFL seasons as a tight end, Johnson spent time with Washington, Detroit, Kansas City and Philadelphia. Originally selected in the 12th round of the 1989 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, he was a long-shot rookie who not only made the final squad, but also went on to play in all 16 games that year. While with the Redskins, Johnson played under the legendary Joe Gibbs and was part of teams that went 34-14 in regular season action and 4-1 in the playoffs. He was a member of the 1991 Redskins team that reached the pinnacle of the NFL, winning Super Bowl XXVI over Buffalo in the stadium he now calls home – the Metrodome. His best season statistically was 1990, when he caught 15 passes for 218 yards and a pair of TDs. That year he averaged 14.5 yards per catch, which trailed only Gary Clark’s team-leading 14.8 average, and caught his 1st NFL TD on a 4-yard pass from Stan Humphries in a 41-38 overtime win at Detroit (11/4/90). In 1991, Johnson caught 3 passes in the opening 6 games, including 2 for TDs from Mark Rypien in the 1st and 2nd games of the year vs. Detroit (9/1/91) and at Dallas (10/6/91) on Monday Night Football. A neck injury suffered at Chicago (10/6/91), however, placed Johnson on injured reserve for the rest of the Redskins championship season.
Following his 3 seasons with Washington, Johnson joined the Lions in 1992 as a Plan B free agent and went on to start 10 of the 22 games he played from 1992-93 under head coach Wayne Fontes. After his release by Detroit in November 1993, Johnson joined Kansas City and head coach Marty Schottenheimer for the 1994 season. That year the Chiefs played against the Vikings in the preseason game held in Tokyo and went on to ride Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Marcus Allen to a 9-7 record and a berth in the playoffs. Johnson played in 7 games and started 1 that season.
In 1995, Johnson moved on to Philadelphia where he enjoyed his most productive seasons as part of the 2-TE power running game employed by the Eagles. Johnson blocked for Ricky Watters as he earned Pro Bowl berths in 1995 and ’96 while breaking the 1,000-yard mark each season from 1995-97. In 1996, Watters set the Eagles team record for attempts with 353, the 2nd-most yards in team history with 1,411, and the 2nd-most rushing TDs with 13. The Eagles took NFC east runner-up honors in 1995 and ’96 while advancing to the playoffs both seasons under Ray Rhodes. During that time, Johnson started 18 of the 51 games he played and had a career best 18.1-yard receiving average in 1996, when he caught 7 passes for 127 yards. His final NFL TD came from QB Bobby Hoying vs. Cincinnati (11/30/97).
As a player, Johnson was durable, seeing action in all 16 games in 6 of his 10 seasons. He finished his career with 61 catches for 723 yards and 5 TDs while playing in 5 postseason games. He also blocked for 1,000 yards rushers in 8 of his 10 NFL seasons, helping Earnest Byner break the 1,000-yard mark and earn Pro Bowl honors in 1990 and 1991. Barry Sanders repeated the feats in Detroit in 1992 and ’93, and in Philadelphia, Johnson helped Watters get over the 1,000-yard plateau in 1995, ’96 and ’97. Johnson finished his career clearing the way for Deuce Staley in 1998, who gained 1,000+ yards in only his 2nd NFL season.
After his playing days were over, Johnson entered coaching, beginning his career as the running backs coach at South Carolina State in 2001, where he helped the Bulldogs finish 6-5. He then held the offensive coordinator position at Shaw University in 2002 before becoming offensive coordinator/QBs coach at Texas Southern in 2004 and 2005. Johnson had an immediate impact in both positions. In 2005 at TSU, Johnson helped develop sophomore RB Brent Wilson into a 1st-Team All-SWAC performer with 1,032 rushing yards, 10 rushing TDs and 1 receiving TD. Wilson became the 1st TSU player to break the 1,000-yard mark since 1998 and was the lone sophomore on offense to earn 1st-Team honors after making a dramatic improvement over his freshman season when he finished with 16 rushing yards. At Shaw, Johnson helped resurrect the Bears football program that had been discontinued since 1978. The team went 7-3 in both 2002 and 2003 and rejoined the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in ‘03.
Johnson attended Howard University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in consumer studies. Jimmie was initiated into Omega Psi Phi Fraternity through Alpha Chapter on March 14, 1986. As a senior he was an All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference choice after hauling in 31 receptions for 546 yards and 9 TDs. For his college career, Johnson finished with 16 TDs and 1,229 receiving yards on 73 catches. In 2003, Johnson was inducted into Howard University Athletic Hall of Fame for his achievement at HU.
A native of Augusta, GA, Johnson attended T.W. Josey High School. He and his family reside in Shakopee.