Calvin Johnson’s retirement signifies a number of changes in the NFL. From the outside looking in it is tough to define the “why” to his departure, but in the end that is one of the more alluring things to come from this.
He leaves the game of football as one, if not the best athlete to ever play the position. Don’t twist my words, I did not call him the best receiver of all time, that is not the case, but no comparison can be made when it comes to his ability.
At 6’5’’ Johnson towered over the competition. His height, speed, length and hands worked in perfect harmony, creating the ultimate receiving specimen and arguably the best nickname in professional sports history, “Megatron”.
While the man didn’t reflect the menacing metal hellion to the truest form of personification, what he did on the football field seemed to eclipse what was believed to be possible. Johnson caught EVERYTHING! We are talking 731 receptions in nine years, 11,619 receiving yards to go along with 83 career touchdowns.
Year after year Johnson destroyed the competition, and in 2012 he waged war on the record books. Johnson collected 122 receptions, an NFL record 1,964 yards, five touchdowns and a staggering 92 first downs for his team, while setting another NFL record with eight consecutive 100 yard receiving games.
These accolades are only a portion of the reason much of the football world, especially those in Detroit, are scratching their heads.
The bottom line to me here is intelligence. Johnson was gifted with unbelievable size, strength and speed, but the true indicator of greatness resides within the mind. Just like the nickname “Megatron”, Johnson lives up to this hype.
Today football is in a place it has never been. The spotlight shines so bright that it is burning holes in the backs of jerseys. This intense illumination equates to some unforeseen benefits, specifically money, and Johnson’s choice to retire speaks volumes about the future this league could be in for.
Now, the goals have changed; the motivation has changed. Now, football is a means to an end, and for players the caliber of Johnson, both physically and mentally, that end will be coming much sooner than many of us will have hopped.