Texas legend, Olympic gold medalist ‘Lam’ Jones dies at 60

Field Level Media

March 15, 2019 at 5:33 pm.

Johnny “Lam” Jones, a two-sport star who won an Olympic gold medal and was a first-round NFL draft pick, died Friday morning at age 60, the University of Texas announced.

He had fought a long battle with cancer.

Jones was a state champion sprinter in high school in Texas and made the U.S. Olympic track team in 1976 before he ever competed for the Longhorns. He won a gold medal in the 4×100 relay and also ran the 100 meters, finishing sixth.

At Texas, he was a wide receiver and running back for the football team from 1976-79 and ran track in 1977-78. He was an All-American in football (1978-79) and track (1977) and the football team’s MVP in 1978. He used his speed to score eight touchdowns of 45 yards or longer for the Longhorns.

He received the nickname “Lam” while his Longhorns teammate of the same name was called “Ham.” The names were assigned based on their Texas hometowns: Lampasas and Hamlin.

The New York Jets chose Jones with the No. 2 overall pick of the 1980 NFL Draft, trading the Nos. 13 and 20 overall picks to move up in the draft order. He never achieved the success he had in college, however, playing just five seasons at wide receiver.

The Jets signed him to a six-year, $2.1 million contract, which was an NFL record at the time.

In his NFL career from 1980-84, all with the Jets, Jones gained 2,339 yards from scrimmage and scored 13 touchdowns but fumbled six times.

“I know how they remember me in New York: I’m the guy they blew the draft pick on,” Jones said in a 2005 interview with the New York Daily News, admitting he was addicted to cocaine and alcohol during his playing days. “That’s OK. I didn’t live up to their expectations, but I didn’t live up to my own expectations, either.”