The shelf life for most players in the NFL is short. The game of football is physically and mentally taxing, and the body can only take so much punishment. Yet, every so often, we come across players who decide to leave the league way too soon. Unfortunately, this may be the case for Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson. According to ESPN’s NFL Insider, Adam Schefter, after nine seasons in the National Football League, Johnson has decided to retire.
Although the Lions hope the future Hall of Famer will reconsider, Schefter learned (from a source who knows the All-Pro receiver well) that he is “pretty content with his decision.” For the majority of his career, Johnson has been one of the best wide receivers in the entire league. With a combination of size, speed, and strength, No. 81 was pretty much as unstoppable as they come, leading folks to dub the superstar “Megatron.” A moniker that still holds true today despite a string of recent injuries.
As fans of the game, we would hate to see a player of Johnson’s caliber exit the NFL. However, we understand and respect the reasoning behind his decision. If this is, in fact, the end of Johnson’s illustrious career, then we feel obligated to show our respect by reviewing some of his top moments. While Megatron’s career has been full of them, for us, these three stand above the rest.
3. The “Calvin Johnson rule” is born
On September 12, 2010, with about 30 seconds left in a divisional battle with the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, Johnson caught what appeared to be a go-ahead touchdown pass for the Detroit Lions. Only it wasn’t a catch at all. Johnson put the ball down on the ground as he rose up to celebrate the play and therefore did not “maintain possession of the ball throughout the entire process of the catch,” according to referee Gene Steratore. The pass was ruled incomplete, the Lions went on to lose the game 19-14, and one of the most confusing rules in NFL history had a new name: the “Calvin Johnson Rule.”
2. Calvin Johnson goes for over receiving 300 yards
The NFL has seen its fair share of unbelievable individual efforts. But few compare to Calvin Johnson’s performance against the Dallas Cowboys on October 27, 2013. In the Lions’ eventual 31-30 victory, Johnson had 14 receptions, 329 receiving yards, and one touchdown. With that 329-yard performance, the man they call “Megatron” placed himself at No. 2 on the list of players with the most single-game receiving yards in history. Of course, as far as the NFL record books are concerned, Johnson was already plenty acquainted.
1. New record for receiving yards in a single season
During the 2012 NFL season, Johnson raised the bar for the wide receiver position. Despite the Lions finishing the year with an abysmal 4-12 record, No. 81 was absolutely unstoppable, setting a new record for single-season receiving yards with 1,964. If this is, in fact, the end of the road for Johnson, we have a feeling he will be sorely missed (except by the defensive backs who were tasked with covering him). He was a generational talent the likes of which had never been seen before in the NFL; a player who literally changed the game. And those individuals don’t come around often.