Charley Johnson to Receive Highest Honor from New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University recently announced that former Big Red quarterback Dr. Charley Johnson is this year’s recipient of the James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service.

Johnson is one of eight NMSU alumni being honored at the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Awards Celebration on October 21st. They will also be recognized at the homecoming football game against San Jose State on October 22nd at Aggie Memorial Stadium.

Honorees are selected by the Alumni Association Awards Committee based on personal accomplishment, professional achievement, and charitable service.

“This year’s Distinguished Alumni stand for the best of the best, contributing greatly to their career fields, giving back to society and representing NMSU boldly and brilliantly along the way,” said Derek Dictson, President, NMSU Foundation.

Johnson quarterbacked the Aggies to two winning appearances in the Sun Bowl in 1959 and 1960 and was the first two-time C.M. Hendricks Most Valuable Player. After graduating in 1961, he was selected by the Cardinals in the 10th round of the NFL draft. The Big Spring, Texas native took over as starter in his second season and led the Big Red to a 30-15-3 record from 1963-1966. He led the NFL in completions (223), attempts (420), and yards (3,045) in 1964. He also led the NFL in fourth quarter comebacks in 1966 and 1968 and twice threw six touchdowns in a game during his nine year career with the Cardinals. He was traded to the Houston Oilers in 1970 and finished his career in Denver where he was inducted into their Ring of Honor in 1986. See Charley’s NFL statistics.

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Gone but not forgotten—thanks to this Big Red fan

In the spring of 1988, St. Louis Football Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill pulled up stakes in St. Louis and moved his team to Arizona. They have now been gone longer (35 years) than they were here (28). They’ve been gone so long, Gen Z football fans know them only as the Arizona Cardinals and Boomers of a certain age may have forgotten they ever played in The Lou.

Gone, yes. Forgotten, no—not as long as Bob Underwood has anything to say about it.

If you’re reading this, you likely know that Underwood is the gatekeeper of the St. Louis Football Cardinals Facebook Group and other social media sites including a blog called TheBigRedZone.com. With its selection of stories, photos, videos and other features, it’s a veritable cornucopia of information about the St. Louis Cardinals (1960-87).

Underwood created photo albums largely stocked by pictures from old NFL GameDay magazines he bought on eBay. Later, he added YouTube videos. Then, on Dec. 26, 2017, he created the Facebook group for fans and former players.

Any member can post something as long as they follow four rules: 1) St. Louis Cardinals posts only; 2) Be kind and courteous; 3) Name calling and hate speech will not be tolerated; and 4) No promotions or Spam.

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