BUMMER: Calvin Johnson Is Almost Definitely Retiring
People in Detroit truly cannot catch a break.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Detroit Lions superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson told his family and close friends before the start of the 2015 NFL season that it would be his last. Two of those close friends were longtime teammates Stephen Tulloch and Matthew Stafford, who both honored his request for confidentiality regarding his decision.
Schefter's sources say that Johnson told his coach, Jim Caldwell, about his intended retirement the day after the regular season ended for the Lions.
Early retirement is something that more and more players are leaning toward, as the truth about the devastating effects of football on the body have become more evident and publicized over time. Still, those players that choose to leave the game early are almost never of the caliber that Johnson is. The player better known by some as "Megatron" isn't just the greatest, most prolific Lions wide receiver of all time, he's one of the best receivers of his era.
In just nine seasons in the NFL, Johnson has amassed an astounding 731 receptions for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns. If he had played for fifteen seasons, as many Hall of Fame-caliber receivers have, he could have and probably would have finished his career in the top three all-time in career receptions and receiving yards as well as top five all-time in receiving touchdowns.
It's not hard to understand that the bleakness of playing in Detroit could wear down any player, let alone a guy like Johnson whose prime was wasted playing for a team that made the playoffs twice and went 0-2. But he's not just abandoning an opportunity to go down as one of the best ever; he's also leaving a lot of money on the table. In 2012 Johnson signed a 7-year, $113,450,000 contract. Over the next four seasons, he would have made $67.7 million in base salary, before becoming an unrestricted free agent after the 2019 season.
Clearly the money isn't everything to him if he's willing to walk away from it. Which makes you wonder a few things, the first of which is why he didn't try to get traded to another team. It would've been hard to get another team to take on that contract, but he could've renegotiated his deal and been paid a little bit less money for a much better team that needs a deep threat receiver; say perhaps a team like the Panthers, who are poised to be a contender for at least the next five years.
Obviously he feels like whatever damage he is doing to his body is just not worth any of the hassle anymore, which is super depressing. As was one of the most dynamic, explosive athletes to play in the NFL in the last 10-15 years, Johnson was a football players that was just a pure pleasure to watch. Knowing that it took such a toll on him physically, and that he had to waste his short career playing for such a disaster of a team, is a bitter pill to swallow.
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