Born: March 3, 1946 Beaumont, TX
John Charles Fuller, born March 3, 1946, in Beaumont, Texas, is a former professional football player. A standout athlete at Lamar, Fuller qualified for the 1968 Olympic trials in the decathlon. He played eight seasons as a safety in the National Football League for the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints.
One of Lamar's most versatile athletes, Johnny Fuller, was a standout split end and punt returner for the Lamar's Southland Conference football championship teams of 1964, 1965, and 1966. He was named All-Conference in 1966 and 1967 and Little All-American in 1967. In 1967 he led the nation in Division II in punt returns with a 19.6 average.
Fuller qualified for the 1968 Olympic trials in the decathlon. He did not participate after his coach, Ty Terrell, and five members of the track team were tragically killed in a plane crash on April 28, 1968. Johnny was supposed to be on the flight, but he caught an earlier flight at the request of his wife. He answered the 2 a.m. phone call meant to inform his wife that he had perished in the crash. Lamar's 1968 track team was outstanding. Earlier in the season, they had set a new school record in the mile relay by beating Rice and Texas at the Border Olympics.
Fuller was drafted in the fourth round of the 1968 draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Fuller mentioned on a visit to the Museum that after he was drafted, he opted not to participate in the Olympic trials but went to watch them in Oakland, as he was already living in San Francisco.
He played nine years of professional football as a defensive back. From 1968 thru 1972, he was with the San Francisco forty-niners, and from 1973 thru 1976, he played for the New Orleans Saints. The Saints defense achieved its first shut-out ever against O.J. Simpson and the Buffalo Bills the year of O.J.'s 2000 yard season. They held the Saints' offense to 79 yards in a 13-0 win. In Joe Namath’s last game, he was leading the Jets down the field for the go-ahead touchdown against the 49ers when Fuller intercepted a Namath pass, thwarting the comeback. It was the last interception thrown by Namath. Johnny Fuller is a member of the Museum of the Gulf Coast, Sports Hall of Fame.