In 2000, he transferred to Oregon State University, after being aggressively recruited by coach Dennis Erickson to play for the Oregon State Beavers football team. He also broke a school record for the longest touchdown reception with a 97-yard reception in a game against Stanford University.
The Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League chose Johnson in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft with the 36th overall pick.
He had a stellar performance during the game, prompting the return of the original list. Every vote helped him raise money for his charity project, "Feed the Children".
This gave him an NFL record of 450 receiving yards in back-to-back games (currently in 2nd behind Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns who had 498 yards in back to back games in 2013), breaking the previous record of 448 set by San Francisco 49ers receiver John Taylor in 1989.
In 2011, Johnson was traded to the New England Patriots, who he played for in Super Bowl XLVI.
In 2012, Johnson played for the Miami Dolphins during preseason but was released following his arrest for domestic violence.
However, after shaving his Mohawk and changing his mentality, he had a breakout game in a losing effort against the San Diego Chargers.
Johnson accumulated 260 receiving yards and scored two touchdowns, which broke the previous Bengals record for most receiving yards in a game.
On November 2, 2005, Marvin Lewis, the Bengals head coach, replaced Johnson's list with another one titled, Did 85 do everything he could to lead his team to victory 11-6-05.