I tried and failed to write this post many different times over the past couple days. It’s tough to write these types of posts for me because I want them to be perfect and I keep thinking of different memories or moments that were awesome as I go along. Thinking of different moments that will never be repeated, duplicated, replicated, you get the idea. It’s a shame that Calvin Johnson is done at such a young age, but his body is not what it once was and you could see in 2014 that he was dealing with more and it was taking longer for him to come back from getting banged up.
Seeing this tweet was absolutely devastating. Part of me still cannot believe that Calvin Johnson is retired. I just do not quite want to believe it yet…even if the news broke on January 31st that he was contemplating retirement. A player that I idolized so much calling it a career early is very tough to swallow. Watching highlight videos, listening to different clips of him mic’d up and looking at different photos does not help matters either. I still remember the first time that I saw Calvin Johnson do something that made my jaw drop. November 6th, 2004 against NC State…yeah, I had to look up the official date, but you cannot ever unsee this catch.
That’s when I started following Calvin Johnson’s career. And let me tell you, that was not the last ridiculous catch that Calvin had in college.
When he entered the Draft, I was hoping the Lions would take him. My thinking was screw it, what is the worst that could happen by adding another offensive weapon? It may not be true, but the story that Calvin borrowed someone else’s shoes to run in the 40 at the NFL Combine is still one of my favorites. That he is so ridiculous from a physical stand point that something like that could have been true was just awesome.
Those highlights are just a display of God-given natural ability that cannot be taught in any way shape or form. Calvin was just made differently than normal people. There’s no denying it. The only person that I think can even be considered as much of a physical freak as him is Bo Jackson. I actually got into a twitter argument with an NFL insider that was convinced Randy Moss was more of an athletic freak than Calvin which is lol funny. If you think Randy Moss or Jerry Rice were better receivers than Calvin, that’s one thing, but more freaky athletically? Not a freaking chance.
I was so happy once the Lions chose him; thank god for Al Davis. Lane Kiffin wanted Calvin Johnson over JaMarcus Russell but good ol’ Al did what he wanted and I love him for it. And thank god Mel Kiper was not running the Lions draft in 2007 either. Brady Quinn? Yuck.
It was so amazing to watch how fast he evolved and how quickly his dominance started to take shape. How quickly defenses had to game plan for him and how he forced them to know where he was at all times and it still would not matter. He was one of those players that could be held in check all game, or most of it, and then wreck your day with some unbelievable catch. He never mailed it in and always kept opponents on their toes.
I wish I could remember the first time I saw him on the field, but alas, my memory is not that good anymore. I do remember the first preseason game that I went to his rookie season and the first thing I did when I got to Ford Field was going into the Roar ‘N More store and got a black Calvin Johnson Lions jersey. My dad asked if I was sure or if I would rather have a Roy Williams one instead…but I knew what my heart was set on.
There are only 10 highlights on here and it could have very easily been more than that and you could very easily debate each one at the start of the list. I do know that the touchdown against the Bengals that is #1 is one of the most awesome things I’ve seen at a football game. Calvin, like Pavel Datsyuk, is a player that not only the fans were in awe of, but the other players as well.
Sometimes it is even difficult to separate all of the incredible things he did game-by-game from each other. Everything he did for a while seemed to be more miraculous than the next. It was impossible to turn away because you never knew what kind of catch he was going to make next…which improbable feat he was going to accomplish and make it look easy. He could make a 10-yard gain look amazing by making some absurd catch he had no business making because before Stafford was throwing to him, or when Stafford was hurt, he had some train wreck quarterbacks throwing to him. Most other receivers would not have been able to produce or they would have put up some paltry numbers and their fan base would have flipped out. Not Calvin though. Not even the Madden Curse could bring him down, which he effectively destroyed. It makes sense that the curse started with Barry Sanders and it had to be another generational talent on the Lions to end it.
Calvin was pretty damn consistent throughout the entirety of his career. His prime was the three seasons from 2011-2013 and boy were they spectacular. Two of those three seasons were two of four TOTAL seasons that he played every single game in. And even though he never played fewer than 13 games in a season, I would be willing to bet that he played at least 15 games in his career not even close to 100%. If not more than that.
It was particularly tough for me listening to people talk about how the Lions should cut or trade Calvin this past year. To try to free up cap room…cut the best player on your team…just think about that for a second. I don’t have to tell you which side I fall on during that debate. And then those same people were hoping that Calvin would retire to free up $11 Million in cap room. It always dumbfounded me that people wanted to get rid of one of the best players in the Lions franchise history so badly. People took him for granted and I really wish they hadn’t. People always seem to take things for granted, especially athletes they idolize.
Just as ridiculous is whether or not he is a Hall of Famer. I get he did not win anything and that his career was shorter than normal. But the idea that one of the biggest game-changing athletes would not be a Hall of Famer is ludicrous. You’re welcome to say that you do not think Calvin is a first ballot Hall of Famer because of the waiting line at wide receiver, but to think he is not a Hall of Famer at all? Get real.
He holds 10 NFL Records…TEN! And that does not even include some of the bizarre stats that he holds. And even still, his numbers do not adequately display his impact on the game the past 9 seasons. He was so much more than just the numbers; the guy even has a rule named after him!
Like come on! I had never seen anything like this before and I would be willing to bet that you don’t see anything like this ever again.
On top of all the ridiculous plays on the field, he was a class act off of the field. You never heard a bad word about him and his peers loved him. Everyone was in awe of his talent and that’s how you know someone is truly special. He was the type of player that would dominate, set records, quietly hug his dad and then go right back to work. People who insinuate that he was lazy or did not care or did not compete frustrate me. It is an insult to him as a person and a player.
His statement truly says everything that there is to say about him; he’s a first-rate person.
Calvin has definitely earned the right to go out on his terms, God knows he does not need the money, but that does not mean that I have to like it. It feels like his career was so short and that he was gone in an instance, but I guess time just keeps flying by. You wonder if he did have gas in the tank left to give and if he still could have played at a high level for another year, but I guess we will never know. What I do know is that I’m going to miss watching Calvin Johnson play on Sundays. I’m going to miss using him in Madden. I’m going to miss watching highlights of him making magnificent plays. I’m going to miss watching him frustrate opponents. I’m going to miss a lot of things about him. The Lions are certainly going to be a lot less exciting, especially for the immediate future. Hell, Sundays in general are going to be less exciting. Calvin was a captivating player that could do something freaky or take it to the house at any moment. I’m thankful that I got to see him play in person so many times because it was truly a blessing.
Thank you Calvin, and All Hail Megatron.
There were some good reads on his retirement that I thought were worth listing below here…I recommend taking a look.
- Megatron May Retire, But He Isn’t Washed Up
- Calvin Johnson: A Career Retrospective
- Calvin Johnson Retires, Leaves Behind Near-Impossible Legacy to Match
- Calvin Johnson Career By The Numbers
- Monday Morning Quarterback: Calvin Johnson Retirement Round Table
- Beloved Calvin Johnson was once-in-a-generation talent, and man
- Calvin Johnson’s legacy is how he played on the field, acted off of it
- Albom: Calvin Johnson leaves us wanting more
- NFL players recall top moments from Calvin Johnson
- O‘HARA: No adequate category for Megatron’s impact
[Photos via: The Detroit Lions]