Calvin Johnson has the right to speak his mind

Written by :
Published on : July 16, 2017

 

 

The Detroit Lions world is once again in an uproar over comments made by Calvin Johnson. The best receiver to ever don a Lions uniform is getting a ton of flak from fans and pundits after a recent trip to Italy. When prodded by the Italian media about his early retirement, he stated that in addition to the well-noted breakdown of his body and its declining ability to recover from the rigors of playing in the NFL, he didn’t see a shot at a Super Bowl with the Lions. This has fans all over the internet hating on Megatron and complaining that he is dragging the organization, the same one that made him a very rich man, through the mud.

 


Everyone needs dial back the talk of Calvin Johnson bashing the organization and remember that he is entitled to his opinion and he is no longer an employee of the team. Not only can he say whatever he wants but he was the only bright spot in a horribly mis-managed operation for years. He suffered through so much as a Lion and always did it with class. He showed up to work, did his job and did it well. And through all the losing, and the coaching blunders, and awful rosters, he never once complained. Or demanded a trade. He was a Lion for his entire career, and when his body couldn’t take the abuse anymore he walked away from the game. That he didn’t see a Super Bowl in the immediate future for the team factored into the decision, big deal.

 

Megatron also added that he was “stuck” in his contract and had approached the team about possibly being released, which the Lions were never going to do. The only thing I really take issue with is him saying he was stuck when he chose to sign the contract in the first place. He could have entered free agency and went to any number of teams but he signed a 7 year/ $132 million extension in 2012 to be sure he would retire a Lion. If he was stuck it was his own doing.

 

Other than that I don’t really see a reason to be mad at Calvin. Can a man who is retired and not on the team not answer a question candidly? He no longer owes anything to the team and should be able to say what’s on his mind. Everyone already knew this was the case. Fans need to stop getting their feelings hurt by what was plain to see.

 

With all that said, the ongoing Calvin Johnson post-career drama is getting old. Sadly, we as fans are going to have to get used to it. Unless Calvin Johnson becomes a hermit and is never seen in public again, the conversation will eventually always come back to a career that was far too short. And most people will place the blame for that on the Lions and try to bait him into admitting that the team is the reason the world was robbed of Megatron too soon.

 

 


The Lions get it wrong again

Written by :
Published on : June 11, 2017

 

 

There’s probably nothing to it.

 

I hope there’s nothing to it.

 

Dear God, this can’t be happening again.

 

In a situation that is sadly familiar to fans of the NFL’s Detroit Lions, it seems that their most recent mega-star has walked into early retirement holding onto some hard feelings against the team. With shades of Barry Sanders, who retired in his prime via a fax on the eve of training camp, the Lions have bid farewell to Megatron, who was still one of the league’s top receivers when he walked away. Calvin Johnson didn’t screw the team over like Sanders; the team knew he had been contemplating retirement because his body was breaking down from the beating it took over the years. Sanders actions had made it clear that he was displeased with the team, but as far as regular Lions fans were concerned, the team and Calvin Johnson were all good when he retired. But we all may have been wrong.

 

A couple weeks ago, Calvin was asked about the possibility of having his jersey number retired in Detroit, to which he responded “I don’t even like to talk Lions too much just because of the way our relationship ended.” For Lions fans, it was hard to hear that the team may have soured another relationship with a player that means so much to the city. Calvin insists that there’s no hard feelings but it sure doesn’t seem like things are cool between him and the team. So what could it be that has caused this possible rift between the two sides?

 

Calvin-Johnson1

 

Well, it turns out that the team asked him to repay a portion of the $3.2 million signing bonus from his $100 million contract. The team’s logic would seem to be that since the contract was not yet completed, and in cap terms, the signing bonus split evenly over the years of a contract, that the team was still owed a portion of the bonus. Player’s on the other hand, see a signing bonus as money already earned because it’s a bonus given at time the contract is signed.

 

Now technically speaking, I would have to agree that the team is entitled to ask for a portion of that money back, but it also seems like kind of a dick move. At first it was reported that Johnson had repaid $320,ooo but a more recent report claims that the amount may have been as high as one million. Either is a paltry amount to Johnson to be sure, but also a truly insignificant amount to any NFL franchise. Especially when you consider that neither the Seahawks or Cowboys, two successful franchises with Lombardi hardware, asked for any amount of money back from Marshawn Lynch or Tony Romo when they retired before fulfilling their contracts.

 

The Lions would have been much better off letting Calvin Johnson, a guy who destroyed his own body in the name of the team, keep that money. The Seahawks and the Cowboys did it with their superstars because it was the right thing to do. When you think about the kind of money that a player of Calvin Johnson’s caliber can bring to an organization in the way of ticket and jersey sales, it just seems petty and cheap. We fans can only hope that they haven’t permanently destroyed the relationship.

 

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After Barry Sanders retired, the team filed a grievance in order to recoup part of his signing bonus and it led to the team and Sanders being disassociated from each other for years. Now, as the second season since Calvin walked away rolls around, he is attending Oakland Raiders OTAs as a guest. When coupled with the fact that he seems to be lukewarm at best to the idea of the Lions as an entity in general, fans should be sad and maybe even outraged.

 

With Barry Sanders it was maybe just a case of him screwing the team and the team screwing him back. But when it happens with another football icon, maybe the team needs to look in the mirror and reevaluate. The Lions might be incapable to having anything but a toxic relationship. Maybe they should talk to someone, and quick. Because Calvin Johnson must have his jersey hanging in the rafters at Ford Field and he must be part of the Detroit Lions family. He needs to be attending Lions OTAs and be seen as a prominent figure in Detroit football and Detroit the city. If he isn’t, then I can’t see any reason that the team’s next phenom would want to be part of the family for the long haul.

 

 


The Lions’ success is a blemish on Calvin Johnson’s HOF resume

Written by :
Published on : December 22, 2016

 

 

When Calvin Johnson retired at the end of last season, the prevailing theory was that the Detroit Lions were doomed. They were once again losing one of the most prolific offensive superstars ever to play the game. Instead of having a long storied career, Megatron decided to walk away from the game after just nine seasons. Shades of Barry Sanders had fans of the team up in arms. Once again a transcendent offensive weapon was choosing to hang it up early as opposed to continuing on with an organization that was heading nowhere.

 

Like many others, I was fearful that the loss of Calvin Johnson would negatively impact the team, and the offense specifically. I also had an opposing suspicion that losing the Megatron security blanket, could actually help advance Matthew Stafford’s progression as a quarterback. Through 14 games this season, it seems as though the latter turned out to be true. Stafford is in the midst of one of the best stretches of his career, and while a new offensive coordinator deserves a lot of credit for that, you can’t help but notice that he is spreading the ball around like never before. No longer does he have one of the best wide receivers in the game to lock in on, and it seems to have benefited the team in a big way. Does all of this hurt Calvin Johnson’s already much-disputed case for the Hall of Fame?

 

 He was great, but did the offense’s focus on him hinder the team as a whole?

 

Don’t get me wrong, I still think the unbelievable physical talent that Calvin Johnson brought to the NFL merits his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But with how the Detroit Lions have performed this season without him, I think his case has been hurt in a big way. After the team’s 1-3 start, it was easy to start pointing fingers, and some people surely looked to the void left by Johnson’s departure as a contributing factor. Since then, however, the team has gone on a complete tear, winning 8 of their last 10 games. The team sits at 9-5 and is on the verge of possibly winning their first division title since 1993.

 

This works against Calvin Johnson’s case for the Hall of Fame. Where people were pointing at his lack of longevity as the biggest mark against him, people will now also look at the team’s success this season in his absence when making a case against his induction. During Megatron’s nine seasons in Detroit the team only threatened for the division title once or twice, and now in his first season as a professional dancer, they have a two game lead with only three games to play.

 

 From football to Dancing with the Stars.

 

In five years, when the time comes to start considering the man known as Megatron for Canton people will surely point to this season as a reason for his exclusion. For reasons that are beyond me, it was already an uphill battle for Calvin Johnson. If the team should win the division, and somehow manage to win a playoff game, you can be almost certain that there will never be a bust of Megatron in Canton, Ohio.

 

Are the Lions a better team this year? Almost certainly. Does that have something to do with Calvin Johnson’s departure? There’s no way to tell for sure, but you better believe that people will paint it that way.

 

 


Calvin and Andre. Two Johnsons that should go to the Hall

Written by :
Published on : November 10, 2016

 

The NFL has lost two monster receivers in the last year. Calvin Johnson announced his retirement following last season. Victim of a mediocre franchise and a body that could no longer withstand the beating it had endured over 9 years as the focal point of the Lions offense. He decided the best thing for him and his family was to walk away from the game. Much like Barry Sanders a decade and a half earlier, he left fans in Detroit clamoring for more. But who are we to judge? It’s not like we were the ones risking being a cripple by the age of 40. His hands were mangled and he was in pain. It was too soon. He still had gas left in the tank. But he had to go.

 

Andre Johnson announced his retirement following week 8, in the middle of the his 14th NFL season. The longtime member of the Houston Texans walked away from the game after it became obvious that he couldn’t play at a high level anymore. He was released by the Texans following the 2014 season, spent last season with the Colts and was on the Tennessee Titans roster this season. He spent the entire season as a backup and hadn’t registered a catch since week 5. Clearly his time has passed, and unlike Calvin Johnson at the time of his retirement, he was no longer able to produce. He knew it was time to walk away.

 

 

With the retirement of both of these giants, the question has been asked if one or both of these guys belong in the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. I don’t really understand the argument against either. For a decade they were two of the most feared wideouts in football and defenses routinely were forced to game plan around them. In their respective primes they were borderline unstoppable. In my opinion both the Johnsons belong in the Hall of Fame.

 

Calvin only played for 9 seasons, and because of that he sits further down the list for most of the major receiving statistics. But did have the most yards ever in a season back in 2012 (1,964). He was the ONLY weapon on the Lions’ offense for years at a time, and gave the fans in Detroit a reason to watch. His nickname was Megatron because he constantly made plays that seemed inhuman. Calvin Johnson was a machine and changed the way people viewed the wide receiver position.

 

Andre has some things in his resume that Calvin lacks. He played for 14 seasons and and has 2 playoffs wins under his belt (2011 and 2012). His longevity shows that he was able to be an important part of the Texans offense for years, despite having worse quarterback play for most of his career. Andre never had quite the monster season that Megatron did in 2012, but he still averaged over 1,000 yards per season for his entire career. That’s impressive. He is also the only player in NFL history to have 60+ receptions in his first 8 seasons.

 

 

In the NFL of today, where defenses are able to game plan around specific players and try to minimize their impact, these two players were as impactful as any. They were famous for their big play ability and their knack for making eye-popping catches. One defender, two defenders or three. It didn’t matter. These two could make opposing cornerbacks look silly at any moment. It’s not Calvin’s fault that he doesn’t have a playoff win (he appeared in 2 game with the Lions in 2011 and 2014). It’s not his fault that he played in an era that actually puts value on player’s quality of life during and after football, as opposed to running these guys into an early grave. Megatron doesn’t have the longevity of players from past eras and he may not have the playoff resume, but for almost a decade he was transcendent. Andre might not have had quite the same aura of dominance, but he was damn sure dominant on the field. He didn’t have the bad ass nickname but he had the skills to be sure. He was every bit the receiver as the other Johnson.

 

Shouldn’t the Hall of Fame have something to do with the level of fame that the player achieved? In a league with 32 teams, not everyone gets to the playoffs and not everyone gets a Super Bowl. Neither of these two players has a championship ring but they had the fame and the reputation as guys not to be taken lightly or underestimated on the field. They both deserve to be in the Hall of Fame because for years, they were the best of the best. In 7 years, when it’s time to put their names into consideration, and their legend has had a chance to grow, I’m confident they will both be there.

 

 


Pro Football’s Changing of the Guard

Written by :
Published on : March 12, 2016

 

The NFL lost some of it’s all time greats this offseason. A handful of Pro Football’s best players at their respective positions decided to walk away from the game. Some before their time, and some who had long and fruitful careers before deciding to hang up the cleats. Whether too soon or at the right time, the game of football, the NFL and the sports world in general will miss them.

 

Luckily for all of us, the game is in good hands. Those who decided to walk away this offseason will be passing the torch to the new generation of superstars, who will make sure that our Sunday afternoons are still full of joy and wonder. Let’s take a minute to reflect on the great players we are losing and see which players will help us forget about them.

 

intothesunset

 

 

Megatron shutting down

 

This is especially hard for me to process. Calvin Johnson is a future hall of famer, despite what some people might say. He played for nine seasons and for more than half of that period he was the undisputed best wide receiver in football. He consistently faced double and triple coverage and still caught almost everything thrown in his direction. I’ve never seen someone of his size have that kind of speed, agility and body control. You don’t earn the nickname Megatron for nothing and while I’m sad to see him go, the next big star wide receiver is nothing to sneeze at either.

 

I really think Antonio Brown is going to be the one to carry Calvin’s torch for years come. I’ve already thought that he is the best wideout in the league for a year or two now. He has a knack for making eye popping plays just like Megatron, and with LeVeon Bell’s rash of recent injuries, I see him as the most important part of that Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense. He’s lucky to have had the same quarterback for his entire career and their chemistry is something to behold. If I were a Steelers fan it might even be enough to feel better about Calvin Johnson’s early retirement, but at least I’ll still get to see someone making unbelievable catches every week.

 

 

The Sheriff has turned in his badge

 

I think we all knew that Peyton Manning was going to retire after he and his Broncos won Super Bowl 50. It shouldn’t be surprising, especially when you consider that he wasn’t exactly propelling his team to victory in that game, or the playoffs for that matter. It was the Broncos’ defense that was the driving force behind that championship run and anyone with cursory knowledge of the game could tell that Manning was struggling out there. Like Megatron, injuries had begun to wear away his ability to stay on the field for a full season, but unlike Megatron, those injuries had also begun to take a huge toll on his ability to make plays. For most of the last two decades he was the best QB in the league but it is now evident that his arm can’t keep up with his beautiful football mind. There’s not a more perfect time to walk away and that’s exactly what he did, but don’t fret, the game is in good hands.

 

It’s kind of fitting that Peyton would be handing the torch off to Cam Newton, the losing QB of Super Bowl 50. Cam gets a lot of criticism from people because of his attitude or the way he carried himself after losing the big game, but you can’t deny this kid’s talent. It took me a little while to come around, but now that he has fully developed his pocket passing, it’s clear that he isn’t going anywhere and we should expect him to be one of the best quarterbacks in football for years to come. Last year he had 35 passing touchdowns to go along with 10 on the ground, and only had 10 interceptions. Expect to see him in a few more Super Bowls because he is finally putting it all together and that should be scary for defenses around the league.

 

 

Charles Woodson’s next phase

 

Man, what a career this dude has had. He was the first and only defensive player to ever win the Heisman Trophy and won a National Championship with the Michigan Wolverines that same year in college (1997). In the NFL, he won AP Defensive Rookie of the year (1998), Defensive Player of the Year (2009), was selected to the Pro Bowl nine times, and won Super Bowl XLV with the Packers. He literally has nothing left to accomplish, as a player at least… I think the next phase of this amazing player’s life should be a foray into coaching. With few years as an assistant he can eventually ascend the ranks and become a head coach. First in college, where he obviously wins the College Football Playoff, then into the NFL where he wins a Super Bowl. After that he will transcend his earthly vessel and rise to the heavens as the greatest soul ever to participate in the sport of football, on any level. They’ll probably rename the Lombardi trophy after him. But until then, let’s see who will be filling the void that Chuck is leaving.

 

There were quite a few different players that I had to choose from here but I decided that Chuck Woodson would be handing his torch off to Arizona Cardinals defensive back, Tyrann Mathieu. I put him at the top of the defensive back totem poll because of his knack for making big plays and his ability to play all over the field. In the Cardinals aggressive, hybrid style defense, he is asked to play both cornerback and safety and he excels no matter where he’s at. He can play the run, he can rush the passer, he can play man, he can play zone. There’s really nothing that he can’t do in that defense, or any defense for that matter. There might be some defensive backs who are slightly better in coverage but there’s none that can to the variety of things that he can. It’s a shame that he tore his ACL in week 15 last year and missed the Cardinals’ playoff run because he could have been a difference maker. But he’s only 23 years old and will be making a difference for many years to come.

 

 

So long, Beast Mode

 

Oh Beast Mode, the NFL is really going to miss you, but not as much as I will. Marshawn Lynch was always a unique personality but just as unique was the talent he displayed out there on the football field. Fellow SBS sage, Roger Pretzel, talks a little more about his demeanor here, but I’m here to reminisce about his ability to run through an entire defense and leave them in his dust. I’ve never seen someone get swallowed up by tacklers only to come out on the other end of the pile and keep running the way that he did. He won’t go down as the best running back ever, but if you ask me, he’s the best tackle breaker ever to carry the rock. Fans in Seattle will be left wanting more from their now departed running back but at least NFL fans as a whole will have a new back to look forward to.

 

When the Rams, who at that point were still in St Louis, drafted Todd Gurley with the 10th overall pick in last year’s draft, I was both surprised and relieved. Surprised because he was still coming off of an ACL tear that was going to make him miss at least some of his rookie season, and relieved that he didn’t fall to the Lions. I was scared that they would jump on the chance to draft him because of his high level of potential despite recovering from such a serious injury. I was an idiot because I now realize that my team, and every other team in the league, would be very lucky to have this guy. He won the offensive rookie of the year award and was selected to the Pro Bowl in his first season with the Rams. It’s obvious that this kid is going places. I can easily see him being the best running back in football next year and beyond.

 

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As the sun sets on one group of legends, the dawn of a new age of NFL superstars is upon us. While there’s nothing wrong with remembering all of the good times that these now-retired legends brought us, we shouldn’t be sad. Life goes on, and with the talent that these young badasses have, it won’t be long before we are forget all about those old fogies. So pour out a little liquor for guys like Megatron and Beast Mode and get over it, because next season will be here soon and then it’ll be time to move on and enjoy some highlights from the new kids on the block.

 

 


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