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Mathis vs. Johnson


The Fans' Favorite Falcon series, presented by Ford, rolls on with our next matchup.

How do you decide between No. 6 Terance Mathis vs. No. 11 Billy "White Shoes" Johnson?

Terance Mathis

Arriving in Atlanta in 1994 after a stint with the Jets, Terance Mathis wasted little time in establishing himself as the dominant receiver in then-head coach June Jones' high-powered offense. On Christmas Eve of 1994, Mathis closed out a brilliant first season with the Falcons that included a club-record 111 receptions (broken during the 2010 season by Roddy White). Mathis made his lone Pro Bowl appearance during that season, and he nearly duplicated his yards and touchdown marks from that year during the 1998 Super Bowl season. Mathis was a force on the field and had the ability to make a play nearly every single time he touched the ball. Not nearly as flashy as bracket counterpart Andre Rison — or even his first-round opponent — but Mathis could always be counted on to get the job done.

Billy "White Shoes" Johnson

Before there was "Neon" Deion Sanders, there was Billy "White Shoes" Johnson. You could always find Johnson listed as a receiver on the Falcons roster from 1982-1987, but much like Eric Weems today, Johnson's main contributions were in the return game. Johnson was as dangerous as any player who had ever touched the ball on punt and kick returns, but the excitement — much like Deion — always escalated in the end zone with his signature dance, which he originated during his first years in the league with the Houston Oilers.

The Matchup

Mathis and Shoes are two players basically cut from the same mold. Each was explosive in his own way, each was dangerous in his own way — heck, they even wore the same number 81 on their jerseys. The big difference here is where each contributed. Mathis was as steady and reliable as a wide receiver can get. He was automatic. Shoes, on the other hand, didn't often get his hands on the ball, but when he did, he was downright dangerous and always a threat to make it to the endzone. Although that threat wasn't often realized — he scored just one punt return touchdown in his time with the Falcons — he kept opposing special teams coaches on their toes. Mathis went to one Pro Bowl, and so did Shoes — in 1983 after a season of 46 punt returns for 489 yards and a touchdown.

View the results of the first round

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