Calvin Johnson retired from the NFL today after nine seasons with the Detroit Lions. He was arguably the greatest receiver of his era, amassing 11,619 yards, 721 receptions and 83 touchdowns. He was unstoppable at times, often requiring double and triple teams. He was fun to watch, he was well-respected by peers, and he was beloved by fans. He also unintentionally gave us perhaps the greatest football Vine ever after Green Bay defeated Detroit on a Hail Mary in 2015.
All that being said, Johnson was a part of some awful, awful Lions teams over the last decade. The 2008 squad in particular went 0-16. The 2011 and 2014 Lions went to the playoffs only to lose in heartbreaking fashion to the Saints and Cowboys respectively. The frustration and the physical toll the game took on his body was simply too much. Rumors began circulating shortly after the season about a possible retirement. Nobody wanted to believe it, least of all the Detroit Lions.
But alas, the Lions can’t have (nor deserve) nice things.
Calvin provided a statement to the media. For those who know Calvin, a press conference for his retirement was never a consideration.
“Let me begin by apologizing for making this announcement via a statement and not in person. While I truly respect the significance of this, those who know me best will understand and not be surprised that I choose not to have a press conference for this announcement.
“And finally, to the fans of Detroit and Michigan. I so appreciated your passionate support over the years and truly enjoyed playing for you. I loved playing in Detroit and will forever be a Lion. My biggest regret is that I wasn’t able to help give our fans a championship. But I do believe the future of the Lions is bright and with the leadership from people like Rod Wood and Bob Quinn, who I have gotten to know over the past few months, I am confident that our fans will soon be rewarded with the championship you deserve.
“From the bottom of my heart I thank you all for everything.”
Several people who played with and against Calvin weighed in on Twitter.
And the NFL media:
Finally, on a more personal note, Calvin’s catch against the Bengals remains one of the greatest individual plays I’ve ever seen.