Nebraska Legend Johnny Rodgers in ICU with COVID-19; Won 1972 Heisman Trophy

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 6, 2021

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 23: Former Heisman Trophy winners Mike Rozier and Johnny Rodgers pose during a break in the game between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Memorial Stadium on September 23, 2017 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Former Nebraska wide receiver Johnny Rodgers, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1972, has been hospitalized in an intensive care unit with COVID-19, according to the Associated Press

Rodgers told KETV NewsWatch 7 in a text message that he expects to head home "in a week or so" but "might stay a little longer" to punish the coronavirus for "doing me like this."

His business partner, Denny Drake, told the Omaha World-Herald that Rodgers was hospitalized on Thanksgiving with COVID-19 and pneumonia (h/t AP). While he appeared to improve after a few days in the hospital, his condition worsened and he was admitted to the ICU last week.

"He was pretty weak until late yesterday," Drake told the Omaha World-Herald on Sunday (h/t AP). "He called me this morning, and his voice sounded good."

Rodgers texted "We will talk later" when KETV NewsWatch 7 asked him if he was vaccinated. 

The 70-year-old played for three seasons at Nebraska, tallying 154 receptions for 2,679 yards and 27 touchdowns as a receiver and 836 yards and 14 touchdowns as a runner. He posted 58 receptions for 1,013 yards, 73 rushes for 348 yards and 19 total touchdowns in his Heisman-winning season. 

He was the first receiver and first Cornhusker to ever win the award. He was also a two-time All-America selection, two-time national champion and the 1972 Walter Camp Player of the Year award winner. He is a College Football Hall of Famer. 

Rodgers was a first-round pick of the San Diego Chargers in 1973, though he instead signed with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, where he played through the 1976 season, before joining the Chargers for two years. 

While he was a three-time CFL All-Star, he appeared in just 17 NFL games, catching 17 passes for 234 yards and no touchdowns.