Johnny Rodgers

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Husker football legend Johnny Rodgers has been hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19.

Denny Drake, who has been Rodgers’ business partner for 25 years, said Rodgers was hospitalized Thanksgiving morning at the Nebraska Medical Center.

Rodgers also developed pneumonia, Drake said. A few days after being hospitalized, he seemed to be doing better, Drake said.

That first weekend, Rodgers posted this on Facebook:

“I am thankful for my children and family, and thankful for the many friends … that I have. Thank you for the years, and years of support and showing me you care. …

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“In our lives, we will face many kinds of adversaries. In our flesh, we might feel that there is no hope, that no one cares about us. But these are moments to keep praying, to ‘keep alert and be thankful.’ Yes, to thank God, confident that He hears our prayers and that we can trust Him.”

A few days later, on Tuesday, Rodgers “took a turn in the wrong direction,” Drake said, and was admitted to the intensive care unit.

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“He was pretty weak until late yesterday,” Drake said Sunday afternoon. “He called me this morning, and his voice sounded good. He said he had taken a turn toward recovery and was feeling much better.”

Drake said additional information should be available this week.

After a stellar career at Omaha Tech High, Rodgers broke numerous records at Nebraska as part of national title-winning teams in 1970 and 1971 and earned the nickname “The Jet.” He also had one of the most famous plays in Husker and college football history with his punt return for a touchdown in the Game of the Century against Oklahoma.

He capped his career with the Heisman Trophy — a first for a Husker — in 1972 and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

He is also an entrepreneur, community activist and author. He and Drake are partners at Performance Solutions Worldwide and are co-founders, along with William Reed, of the Jet Award Foundation and Trust, which hands out the Jet Award annually to the top return specialist in college football.

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