Legendary Cowboys Coach Clears Up Confusion Over Hall of Famer's Death Mix-Up

Misidentification leads to unusual mix-up among sports legends.

by Faizan Chaudhary
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Legendary Cowboys Coach Clears Up Confusion Over Hall of Famer's Death Mix-Up
© Richard Rodriguez / Getty Images

The sports world was plunged into confusion this week following the misreported death of one Hall of Famer, which inadvertently entangled another. Jimmy Johnson, the revered Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Dallas Cowboys coach, was mistakenly reported deceased, a mix-up clarified by another Hall of Famer with the same name.

Identity Mix-Up Clarified

At the age of 86, the football community bid farewell to Jimmy Johnson, a distinguished player known for his tenure with the San Francisco 49ers as a five-time Pro Bowler. However, confusion ensued when another Jimmy Johnson, also a Pro Football Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl champion coach, was erroneously associated with the death reports.

The latter Johnson took to social media on Friday to assert his vitality, humorously noting he was "still kicking." This blunder saw multiple news outlets mistakenly broadcasting the living Johnson's image alongside obituaries for the deceased.

The error even tripped up veteran sportswriter Larry Fitzgerald Sr., who expressed his condolences online before retracting them upon realizing the mistake. This incident mirrors another recent error involving sports legends.

In late December, an "in memoriam" segment on "The Faulkner Focus" mistakenly reported the death of Frank Thomas, another name shared by two sports stars. The broadcast mistakenly featured the life and achievements of the 55-year-old Hall of Famer and former Chicago White Sox first baseman.

In reality, the Frank Thomas who had passed away was a former Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder and three-time All-Star, who died in January of the previous year. Both living athletes, Johnson and Thomas, have maintained a high profile in sports broadcasting, with Johnson analyzing NFL games for Fox and Thomas providing insights on "MLB on Fox" until his recent replacement by Derek Jeter in 2023.

Such mix-ups highlight the challenges and often humorous pitfalls of reporting in an age where information travels faster than verification, reminding both the media and the public of the importance of accuracy in an ever-connected world.

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