Orangeyes Annual Charity Golf Outing

This annual event is to remember our friend and SUPERFAN, Dan Johnson, and to raise money to fight ulcerative colitis/Crohn’s disease, an awful disease that plagued Dan for the last 20 years or so of his life (perhaps longer).

The event is held each August at a golf course in the Syracuse area. There is always a pinned thread with details published on the football board at

All proceeds go to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America or CCFA. The money goes to our local chapter that benefits Western and Central New York.

Dan Johnson – “Orangeyes”

Dan Johnson or “Orangeyes” as his friends on the fan forum knew him, was the most well-known superfan in the CNY area. A fine athlete in his own right and a legendary softball coach, he led the movement to have a statue of Syracuse legend Ernie Davis erected on Syracuse University campus near the Carrier Dome. Davis as most fans know, was the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. He was the second in a line of famous number 44’s and was the subject of the major motion picture “The Express” so named for Davis’s nickname “The Elmira Express” (Davis was from Elmira, NY). He died tragically of leukemia before ever playing in the NFL.

For decades there was little to honor Ernie Davis at his Alma Mater. Dan Johnson would rectify that.

“For years there was an outcry,” Johnson said. “Why don’t we have a statue? You think, ‘Oh, somebody’s taking care of it.’ But it turns out that everybody thinks somebody else is doing it. I realized no one was doing it.”

Johnson took up the fight to get an Ernie Davis statue made. He approached SU officials, SU alums such as Jim Ridlon and Roy Simmons Jr., and sculptors. The first attempt fell flat when the artist refused to let Johnson or SU officials see her work prior to its unveiling. A second attempt was much better, but still suffered from mistakes such as the wrong helmet and a Nike logo on Davis’ cleats.

“You don’t know what I went through. The agony,” Johnson said. “I wanted it to be perfect, and it gets out of your hands and out of your own control. I did it so fathers and mothers and aunts and uncles could tell their kids what a great man Ernie Davis was.”

Davis was certainly one of the greatest athletes in Syracuse University history and Dan is certainly one of the greatest fans in Syracuse History. Former Syracuse University Athletic Director said, “If there is a fan hall of fame, Dan Johnson should be the first inductee.” Well said.



Syracuse superfan Dan Johnson, man behind Ernie Davis statue, dies

By Mike Waters

Dan Johnson, the Syracuse fan who spearheaded the effort for a statue of Ernie Davis that stands outside the Carrier Dome, died at age of 68 Friday night at Crouse Hospital.

Johnson went into the hospital for double-major surgery in March — to remove his colon and to repair two hernias.

Almost 90 days later, though, Johnsonn faced yet another surgery. Friends say he never regained consciousness after that procedure on June 20.

Well wishes for Syracuse fan Dan JohnsonSyracuse football coaches offer well wishes for Dan Johnson, a Syracuse fan who has been in the hospital since March and will have major surgery.

Johnson was a a staple on the fan website where he went by the screen name Orangeyes. It was his crusade to get the university to honor one of its greatest athletes. Johnson is also a semi-celebrity among SU fans.

Joyce Hergenhan, a friend of Johnson’s and fellow Syracuse sports fan, noted his contribution to the Orange.

“Dan could not afford to attend college, but he became one of the most knowledgable and most dedicated SU fans,” said Hergenhan in an email. “He was responsible for the Ernie Davis statue, and his daily news round-ups on will never be matched and will be sorely missed by the 1000’s of SU fans who read them every day. Visits by Mike Hopkins, Scott Shafer and many SU athletes meant so much to him. They helped keep him alive and ‘fighting’ during his difficult months in the hospital.”

Johnson, who grew up in Syracuse and was a lifelong Orange fan, took up the fight to get an Ernie Davis statue made several years ago.

“For years there was an outcry,” Johnson said about the Ernie Davis statue during an interview in June. “Why don’t we have a statue? You think, ‘Oh, somebody’s taking care of it.’ But it turns out that everybody thinks somebody else is doing it. I realized no one was doing it.”

Johnson grew up on Durston Avenue and graduated from St. John the Evangelist High School. He and his wife, Dianne, would have celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary on July 18. The couple has two children — Kelly and Brian.

During Johnson’s marathon stay at Crouse, the lifelong Syracuse fan had a steady stream of visitors from the school’s athletic department.

Among the visitors were Syracuse football coach Scott Shafer, quarterback Terrel Hunt, Mike Hopkins, Rakeem Christmas, Tyler Roberson, B.J. Johnson, Dajuan Coleman and Baye Moussa Keita and members of the SU softball team.

Reactions pour in following death of Syracuse superfan Dan Johnson

Syracuse, N.Y. — Following the death of Syracuse fan Dan Johnson over the weekend, reactions poured in from fans, friends and Syracuse University officials.

Johnson, 68, passed away on Friday after multiple surgeries and a lengthy stay at Crouse Hospital. Johnson, a lifelong Syracuse resident, had spearheaded the effort to build a statue in honor of Ernie Davis, the Heisman Trophy winner who died of leukemia.

“We are all grieving the passing of Dan Johnson,” SU athletic director Daryl Gross said in an email. “Dan was the most passionate SU athletics fan and cared deeply about the program. His input and passion will never be forgotten. He reached out to us all personally at many games always with a thumbs up attitude and a smile. He was a true friend to all of us in athletics and was our number one fan. I will miss our conversations, email exchanges and embraces at the games. If there is a fan hall of fame, Dan Johnson should be the first inductee.”

Many Syracuse coaches and athletes had visited Johnson during his long stay in the hospital. Syracuse head football coach Scott Shafer and SU assistant basketball coach Mike Hopkins tweeted their condolences after learning of his death.

Johnson was a regular contributor at the fan website where he went by the screen name Orangeyes. Members of the board filled extended threads with their memories of Johnson and best wishes for his family.

Tom Holtsbery, one of’s administrators, knew Johnson personally from their shared interests in golf and SU sports. Holtsbery had visited Johnson almost daily at the hospital. During that time, Holtsbery also took on Johnson’s self-assigned task of putting up daily links to stories of interest to SU fans.

“He was a passionate, highly driven man who lived every day to the fullest,” Holtsbery said. “His drive, humor and wit touched the lives of everyone who was fortunate enough to meet him. The Syracuse University fan base, the Central New York golfing community and the New York State softball community have all lost a great friend.”

Johnson is survived by his wife, Dianne; daughter, Kelly; and son, Brian; along with four grandchildren.

Daniel M. Johnson - Obituary

o513930johnson_20140713Loving son, husband, father, grandfather, coach, role model, mentor and Orangeman, Daniel M. Johnson, 68, of Westvale, passed away Saturday at Crouse Hospital surrounded by his loving family. A lifetime resident of the Syracuse area, he was a 1964 graduate of St. John the Evangelist. Dan retired in 2009 from Johnson Associates and previously worked for Gordon Tobacco Co., GE and Merchants Bank. While at Merchants Bank, he broke the all-time record for collections going back to 1933.

Growing up, he enjoyed competitive sports and was part of many championship teams and was inducted to the New York State Softball Hall of Fame in 2011. Dan’s softball teams were the best in CNY for years. His teams won five state tournaments.

An avid golfer, Dan won two club championships. The first win was at Camillus Country Club in 1989 and then the Links at Sunset Ridge in 1999. He had four holes-in-one. He played chess and also won the Syracuse City Championship in tennis.

Dan was a beloved Syracuse University sports fan and had many encounters and conversations with the athletes throughout the years. He was responsible for getting the Ernie Davis statue, unveiled it and became close friends with the sculptor and his wife.

Dan was a major contributor to the SU message board and was known as the beloved Orangeyes.

Most of all, Dan enjoyed spending time with his family, especially his beautiful grandchildren.

Dan was predeceased by his sister, Beverly.

Surviving are his wife of 44 years, the former Dianne Cotter; daughter, Kelly (James) Fanto of Liverpool; son, Brian (Stephanie) of Westvale; grandchildren, Vanessa Fanto and Luke, Isabella and Sophia Johnson; and many cousins, nieces and nephews.

– See more at:

Join Our Mailing List

Contact Us