Detroit Lions Superstar Calvin Johnson Retires From NFL
Well ladies and gentlemen, it is official. The face of the Detroit Lions franchise over the past 9 seasons has decided to hang up his cleats for good. Just when people thought that the star wide-receiver might stay in the league for an extra year or two, possibly on another team, Calvin retires.
"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." - Calvin Johnson, Jr.
Calvin Johnson, Jr., the 6’5” 240 pound Georgia Tech product, was drafted in 2007 of the NFL Draft as the second pick of the first round by the Detroit Lions. In his first year his stats weren’t eye popping, unless you consider what he usually puts up, as he averaged just over 50 yards per game and recorded a career low of 4 touchdowns. The next year he posted 12 receiving touchdowns as well as 1,331 receiving yards and at that moment is when people began to notice just the type of rare and exceptional talent that the Lions contained in the Motor City. There is just one problem with that season though. Detroit finished 0-16. That season completed the notorious and infamous imperfect record. To make matters worse, they didn’t even win a preseason game.
As the years went by Johnson, Jr. posted up staggering numbers while being double and triple teamed. The only thing more staggering than his numbers is the fact that the team made the playoffs a mere two times. Both appearances were quick first round exits despite Johnson’s outrageous stats. This past season, also his last, Johnson had an “off” year as he recorded 88 receptions, 1,214 yards and 9 touchdowns. Those numbers are pretty good for a pretty good receiver, but CJ is not just a “pretty good” receiver. In 2012 Big Play CJ entered week 16 with a chance to break Jerry Rice’s record of 1,848 receiving yards in a single season needing only 181 yards. Is it fate that the “1” is number “81” to break it? Maybe so, Calvin amassed that mark by hauling in 225 yards on 14 catches in front of the home crowd. Want to know something even more interesting? The Lions still had another game left to play. In the following week CJ posted 72 yards against the Chicago Bears adding extra “insurance” to the record.
Big Play CJ finishes his career with a total of 11,619 yards, 731 catches, 83 touchdowns and a whopping 55 first downs. The rule is simple, throw it 81 and the rest will take of itself. Johnson also concludes his career with the most receiving yards in a single season (1,964 in 2012), 2 seasons with 1,600 receiving yards, most 100 yards receiving games in a season (11, tied with Michael Irvin), and the fastest player ever to record 10,000 receiving yards needing just 115 games to do so. For the franchise, Johnson, Jr. holds the record for basically everything receiving wise. Most touchdowns in a season (16 in 2011), most seasons with 10+ receiving touchdowns (4), most games with multiple touchdowns in one half (12), and most receiving yards in a single game in regulation with a humongous 329 yards.
Another NFL superstar, arguably the greatest at the respected position in his prime as well, had left the Detroit Lions by choice in retirement with plenty of years left to produce. Barry Sanders abruptly retired on July 27, 1999.
Could the Lions be cursed? Things definitely won’t get any easier for the Detroit Lions who seemed to have turned things around after firing numerous staff members in the midseason of 2015-2016. Jim Caldwell will certainly have his work cut out for him as replacing a player like, well not like because there is no player “like” Calvin, it IS Calvin, won’t be easy. I’ve had weeks to cope with this since the reports of him possibly retiring surfaced last month so this wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.
In the end, Calvin Johnson, Jr. meant more to the city of Detroit than just being the best receiver in all of football. His participation in numerous foundations and charities in a city corroded by urban decay and poverty was probably the most memorable for fans from and around Detroit, MI. CJ also took part in events and charities around the nation but most notably in the Atlanta area in his home state of Georgia. Johnson also created his own foundation, The Calvin Johnson, Jr. Foundation.
As a Lions fan, what can I say? It is just another day in the life I guess. I will keep on having faith and hope that this year (and every year) the franchise will “Restore The Roar”. Calvin Johnson, Jr., Big Play CJ, The Mountain That Moves, and The Dallas Destroyer will definitely be missed. Another NFL great is gone from the team with no post season success to show for their tremendous careers. The “if only” game can be played when talking about Barry or Calvin, but the most important thing to mention when speaking of the two should be their stand up characters and humble approach to the game. The famous "watch me jump high and there is nothing you can do about it" catches, toe-dragging "how did he do that?" touchdowns, and famous goal post slam dunks will be missed. Johnson is admired by Lions fans and although he won’t be lacing up the cleats and strapping on the shoulder pads anymore, the true fans know that wherever he takes his talents to, post football, is in great hands (no pun intended).