Calvin Johnson Calls It Quits

Yesterday, one man’s retirement sent shock waves through the entire National Football League. That man was Calvin Johnson, now formerly of the Detroit Lions[1]. According to ESPN among other sources, Johnson told his head coach earlier this year that this past season would be his last.

This season, the Georgia Tech product and former Biletnikoff Award winner had 88 catches for over 1,200 yards and 9 toucdowns; those are great numbers for a guy who played hurt all season on a pretty bad team. #81 finishes his career with 731 catches, 11,619 yards, and 83 touchdowns. He had a catch in every game that he suited up for. Johnson could do it all- he had excellent hands, he was a precise route-runner, he could stretch the field, he could go over the middle, he could block. You cannot possibly build a better receiver than Johnson. Unfortunately, he was subjected to some pretty bad Lions teams, as he only went to the playoffs one time.

I’ve always been a fan of Calvin Johnson. The first reason is simply because we share a birthday[2].  Seriously though, Johnson, in my opinion, has been the best receiver of the mid-2000s. Ever since he came into the league, he was an absolute force. Like seriously, for years, the Lions had no second receiver to throw the ball to, never mind draw coverage away from Megatron. It’s not like it ever mattered though, because he continued to kill it in the statistical department.

I just wish that Detroit was able to build a better supporting cast, because it’s a damn shame that his talent was only showcased in the playoffs once.

The Detroit Lions’ fans have now watched their two best players in franchise history leave the game on top of the world at age 30. It seemed too early for Barry Sanders, and it definitely seems the same for Calvin Johnson. However, I understand. Johnson is a big man who took a big-time beating. He got hit hard pretty consistently, and even when he didn’t miss games, he was playing at less than 100%. I also think that the looming threat of long-term, significant injuries post-football is in the head of every NFL player. I’m not quite sure what the league’s health insurance and pension package is after retirement, especially for a guy who’s as established as Johnson. But based on all of the hullabaloo, lawsuits, and heat the NFL undertakes in anything and everything they do[3], I’m going out on a limb and saying it’s probably not too good. It would be better for Calvin the person to walk away while he still can… literally.

It’s a damn shame that Johnson will walk away from football. Repots do say that he’s at peace, though. If I were the Lions, I’d retire his number not now, but right now. They’ll literally never get a player better than him, so they might as well. Happy trails, Calvin Johnson. Thanks for the memories.


[1] Does that even make sense? Using “now formerly”? Oh well, I’m over it.

[2] September 29th, and we were born 10 years apart, for those of you counting at home.

[3] I won’t hyperlink anything to that point. Just look at any conflict, like, ever, involving the NFL, and my point will be proven.


Cover photo courtesy of

GIFs courtesy of USA Today,, and… yes, in that order.


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Gabe Van Dyke says:

    Excuse you………the Lions made the playoffs twice with CJ


    1. Tyler Bates says:

      Apologies Sir Lions Fan, I’ll never disrespect your franchise again. Well, I probably won’t, anyways.


      1. Gabe Van Dyke says:

        you’re excused


  2. Gabe Van Dyke says:

    Also, where do you see him in terms of HOF and rank among other receivers of all-time?


    1. Tyler Bates says:

      It’s an interesting discussion because obviously his career is shorter than some of the greats. Also, he played in an era that passed more than any other in the history of football. My opinion on Calvin is this- There’s been a lot of great receivers, but not many who you legitimately have to set your complete game-plan around. Jerry Rice and Randy Moss were two of those guys. To me, #81 is in the top echelon of receivers of all time with Moss, Rice, TO, Marvin Harrison, Lynn Swann and so on

      Liked by 1 person

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