He played college football at Indiana University and was drafted in the third round of the 1947 NFL Draft.The first professional football player from Charleston South Carolina, known as "Big John" he was the New York Giants second round draft pick in 1947 and played from 1947 to 1954. He played in the league’s Pro Bowl game in 1950 and 1952. He played the first NFL Pro Bowl and was twice named All-Pro in 1951 and 1955.
He was voted the most outstanding player in the NFL in 1951.
He was named to the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991, and to the Post and Courier’s list of South Carolina’s 100 greatest athletes of the 20th century.