The End of Mr. Unstoppable

Patrick Hamilton—Newspix

'He was inventive, fearless and maybe the toughest of the tough.'

It was easy last week to find good judges who rate Andrew Johns the smartest footballer they ever saw. But Johns, 32, who retired from rugby league on April 10 because of a neck injury that might have crippled him if he'd kept playing, could see himself very differently. "I'm the most immature bloke I know," he said when I knocked on his door one morning in 2000 and found him stretched out watching cartoons.

Johns was both exceptionally clever and childlike, a duality that defined him. Fans first knew him as half of an...

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