Graphic by Ellen O'Donnell, Graphics Manager
One of the best wide receivers from the past decade has recently declared his retirement from the NFL, despite being only 30 years old. Calvin Johnson, “Megatron,” (potentially) called it quits after playing nine years with the Detroit Lions.
His decision may have been in the works for a few months following the regular season, but it was no less surprising when the announcement was finally made. Has he decided that nine years was enough time for him in the NFL? With the explosion of information on brain injuries in football, has he decided to step aside to protect himself? Or was he just tired of losing?
Either way, it’s a shame to see someone of Megatron’s caliber leave the game with what would seem like some good years still ahead of him. He had suffered from some lingering injuries over the past two years that limited his performance, but he still holds most of Detroit’s receiving records. Throughout his career, Johnson has totaled 731 receptions, 11,619 receiving yards, and 83 receiving touchdowns. If he had decided to stay in the game longer, it’d be anyone’s guess as to how high on the all-time ranks the 6’5’’ receiver would climb.
So at this point, the obvious question is this—is the Hall of Fame even a possibility? I think we all know that he would be a lock had Johnson decided to stay in the game longer. The man has talent, and we have yet to find a defender who could stop him. But will people argue that he doesn’t have the stats to make the Hall of Fame?
Either way, his lasting impression on the game will cement him in history. What he has meant to football, and especially the Detroit Lions, is that he has played the game the right way. A humble role model whose actions speak for themselves, Johnson knew what he wanted to accomplish and how to play the game.
Which makes it even more of a travesty that he was stuck in Detroit for his entire career. Although he started to help the revival of the franchise, Detroit only had two winning seasons during his tenure and failed to win a playoff game in either of those two seasons.
Detroit did very little to support Johnson throughout his years in Detroit—the defense had one or two years, and quarterback Matthew Stafford certainly had a big arm, but they really had no chance of making a playoff run. It follows an eerily similar path to the great Barry Sanders, who retired from football from Detroit—at the age of 30.
Is it possible for Megatron to return to the NFL? Of course. He still has some gas left in the tank, either if he comes back this year or takes a year off to recuperate. A new change in scenery may be exactly what Johnson needs in his path toward breaking records and making a trip to the Super Bowl.