In celebration of Arizona's centennial, the Star will feature our picks for the 100 best athletes, moments and teams.
Throughout the summer, we will showcase our list - with the first 90 in no particular order. In August, Greg Hansen will choose his top 10, with a column on each.
Johnson, a Cholla High School graduate, won an NCAA championship in the long jump and went on to play on three Super Bowl teams. As an Arizona Wildcats freshman, he started four games at tailback in 1981. The following season, he earned All-Pac-10 first-team honors.
The Denver Broncos drafted Johnson in the second round in 1985. He played in Super Bowls in 1987, 1988 and 1990 as a starting receiver with Denver.
In Super Bowl XXI, he caught a 47-yard touchdown pass from John Elway and finished with 121 yards receiving in the 39-20 loss to the New York Giants.
In his best season, Johnson finished with 1,095 yards receiving with seven touchdowns in 1989. Along with Mark Jackson and Ricky Nattiel, Johnson was one of Elway's targets known as the "Three Amigos."
Away from the field Johnson has faced legal trouble, including brief jail time and incidents of domestic abuse. He wrote a biography, "The Vance: The Beginning & The End" about his troubled past.
After his retirement, Johnson was involved in trucking and mortgage businesses, according to the Denver Post.
Johnson is an uncle of former CDO H.S. standout Ka'Deem Carey, who will play at the UA.
Hometown; current age
Trenton, N.J.; 48
By the numbers
Career receptions (5th all-time for Denver)
Career receiving yards (seventh)
Career TD receptions (seventh)