"Let me assure you that this was not an easy or hasty decision," Johnson said in a released statement. "As I stated, I, along with those closest to me, have put a lot of time, deliberation and prayer into this decision and I truly am at peace with it. I also want you to know that I have the utmost respect and admiration for the game of football. It has provided so much for me and my family and I will be forever grateful to the game."
Johnson's retirement has been rumored ever since the end of the 2015 season, where he didn't miss any games but was plagued by nagging injuries, rarely if ever practicing. Johnson finished his final season with 88 catches for 1,214 yards and nine touchdowns.
"I want to thank Calvin for being not only a great player for the Lions but for also being the absolute best representative our team, franchise and community could ever ask for," team owner Martha Firestone Ford said. "He was the epitome of dignity, class, humility and excellence. Calvin was exemplary on and off the field and will always be a part of our family and our team."
Possibly the best athlete of his generation, the man nicknamed "Megatron" leaves behind an impressive résumé. He first gained fame at Georgia Tech, where his combination of size and speed was almost unheard of for the wide receiver position. Listed at 6'5 and 239 pounds, Johnson instantly turned heads when he ran a 4.35 40 time at the NFL Combine (borrowing someone else's cleats, no less). The Lions made Johnson the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft and he made almost an immediate impact in the league.
Johnson finishes his nine-year career with 731 catches, 11,619 receiving yards and 83 touchdowns. He had his best season in 2012, where he set the single-season record with 1,964 receiving yards. Johnson also became famous for the "Calvin Johnson rule" after an apparent touchdown catch in 2010 was overturned on review. The catch rule has since been tweaked in increasingly convoluted ways, to the point where it seems that nobody knows what a catch is anymore.
Despite Megatron's heroics over the years, the Lions made the playoffs just two times in his career, failing to win either game. His early retirement will make Johnson an interesting debate topic for the Hall of Fame -- while his final career numbers won't be as gaudy compared to his peers, it's unlikely we'll see an athlete of Megatron's caliber for a long time. He was truly one of a kind, and the football world won't feel the same without Megatron in it.
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