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New Orleans Saints mourn the loss of inside linebacker Vaughan Johnson

Update: funeral will be 1 p.m. eastern in North Carolina

A member of the Saints famed Dome Patrol, linebacker Vaughan Johnson finished his career with 669 tackles, 12 sacks, four interceptions and five fumble recoveries along with four Pro Bowl appearances in eight seasons with the squad.

The New Orleans Saints mourn the loss of inside linebacker Vaughan Johnson, who passed away on Thursday evening at the age of 57.

"The thoughts and prayers of the organization are with Vaughan Johnson's family after his passing. Not only was Vaughan a force on the field in the middle of the 'Dome Patrol' defense, but he was a gentle giant off of it. An underrated defender in the middle of a dominant defense, he quickly became a fan favorite and the respect he garnered league-wide among his peers is evidenced by his four consecutive Pro Bowl selections."

Johnson, 6 feet 3 and 240 pounds, originally played for the Jacksonville Bulls of the United States Football League for two seasons from 1984-85 after a standout career at North Carolina State. He was then selected in the first round by the Saints in the USFL Supplemental Draft in 1986. From 1986-93, Johnson played in 120 regular season games with 98 starts for the Saints, posting 664 tackles, 12 sacks, four interceptions and five fumble recoveries. In four playoff contests, he added 24 more stops. The Morehead City, N.C., native led New Orleans in tackles three times, reaching the century mark each time. He was selected to the Pro Bowl from 1989-92. In 1992, the entire Saints starting group of Johnson, Rickey Jackson, Sam Mills and Pat Swilling became the only group of four linebackers selected to the Pro Bowl together. as the Saints finished first in the NFL in opponent points per game and second in total defense for the second consecutive season. During Johnson's tenure as a starting linebacker for the Saints, the Black and Gold finished in the top five in opponent points per game four times (1987-88 and 1991-92) and in total defense three seasons (1987, 1991-92).

Johnson also was active in the community throughout his Saints career, engaged in multiple endeavors. He was a spokesman for Goodwill charities and also engaged in annual donations from tackle totals to "Operation Happy Child," a program which provided Christmas gifts to underprivileged children.

UPDATE: A funeral service will take place at 1 p.m. eastern on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019 at Glad Tidings Church with Pastor Tim Marriner officiating. Following the service, burial will be at Gethsemane Memorial Gardens in Morehead City, N.C.Vaughan is survived by his wife, Shirley Johnson, sons, Brandon Johnson and his wife Tasha; Bryan Johnson and his wife Tiffany; Michael Johnson; daughter, Vonda Johnson; grandchildren, Kenneth; Leah; and Ava Johnson; parents, Monroe and Valeria Johnson; sisters, Adrienne Harris and her husband Mark; Sharon Caldwell and her husband Kenneth; brother, Zebbie Johnson; and a host of nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.

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