Written by Joshua Mason
Calvin Johnson announced his retirement effective immediately on the eighth of March.
Megatron has been one of the biggest stars in the NFL for the last decade and it is always sad to see a player of this magnitude leaving the league. At the age of 30 it may seem like an early decision, but considering the way Johnson played the game and the state of his body, it is understandable. He told the press “After much prayer, thought and discussion with loved ones, I have made the difficult decision to retire from the Lions and pro football. I have played my last game of football. Let me assure you that this was not an easy or hasty decision. As I stated, I, along with those closest to me, have put a lot of time, deliberation and prayer into this decision and I truly am at peace with it.”
He is going out a record breaker and a one-franchise man.
Calvin Johnson was a wide receiver out of Georgia Tech who was picked second overall in the 2007 NFL draft. He had won the Biletnikoff Award for the best wide receiver before entering the draft. Johnson was touted as being a No. 1 pick type of player, but that accolade went to LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, who joined the Oakland Raiders at No. 1 overall. We all remember him right? While Russell only lasted two seasons in the NFL, Johnson proved his staying power and then some. From 2007-2016 Johnson was the mainstay of the Detroit Lions and always their stand out franchise player, no matter who the quarterback was. His legendary status with the franchise was helped when he was handed the nickname Megatron by former Lions player Roy Williams, and it stuck with the fans.
At 6’5″ and 240 pounds, Johnson certainly deserved to be titled after the Transformers character. His unique physique for his position put him head and shoulders above the rest, literally. His body allowed him to carry for longer, as well as reach for that few extra yards if his team needed it. Unfortunately, being a popular wide receiver takes its toll. When you receive the ball as much as Johnson, you receive an equal amount of hits. In the last four years Megatron has broken down a few times, and has struggle with injuries to his knees and hands.
He leaves the Lions not only as a legend, but also a nice treat. He will save them $11.1m on their salary cap after cutting short his mammoth contract. Both parties are said to be pleased with the deal. Calvin Johnson has certified himself as one of the faces of Detroit Lions along with Running Back Barry Sanders. Although he didn’t manage the ultimate success, Lions only made the playoffs twice with Johnson (2011 and 2014), his loyalty will mean he is one of the first names you will think of when referring to the franchise.
On an NFL scale, his records and numbers did not disappoint the neutral admirer. He ends his career with a total of 11,619 receiving yards at an average of 89.1 per game. Only Julio Jones has a better average (of course over less games). Between 2011 and 2013 Johnson caught 302 passes scoring 33 touchdowns and 5,132 receiving yards. This is the best performance by a wide receiver over a three-year period ever. He leaves the league holding 15 NFL records.
Megatron spawned a host of duplicated wide receivers and a trend for the larger and longer arms, Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski for instance. For me, his most impressive element was his loyalty to the Detroit Lions, but he leaves them in a perilous position next season as they are now only +5000 to win the next Super Bowl since he announced his retirement. In the modern era of the NFL there is no doubt Calvin Johnson will always be ranked among the best. Now he can sit back and watch, on his probably very large screen that his long-term contracts afforded him!
Photo: David Banks/Getty Images