Former Detroit Lions star Calvin Johnson was one of the best wide receivers in the NFL during his playing days. He was a six-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro, and a member of the 2010s All-Decade Team, despite only playing until 2015.
Johnson spent all nine years of his career with the Lions before abruptly retiring at 30 years old.
During his final season, Johnson made his sixth straight Pro Bowl after hauling in 88 passes for 1,214 yards and nine touchdowns. When he retired, “Megatron” was the Lions’ all-time leader in receptions (731), receiving yards (11,619), and touchdowns (83). Johnson led the league in receiving yards twice, and he still owns the NFL single-season record with 1,964 yards in 2012.
Johnson only played on two winning teams during his career, and he was a part of the Lions’ 2008 team, which went 0-16. The lack of team success contributed to Johnson’s decision to retire early.
“It was unfortunate,” Johnson said during a recent appearance on “All the Smoke” with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. “You can’t help but have the feeling like we obviously didn’t maximize the talent that we had. And all anybody can do is point at themselves and say, ‘What could I have done better?’ I could have had, maybe, 2,000 yards or 1,500 yards one year, and that could have helped. Or maybe there was a ball that I could have, should have, caught.
“Just the simple fact that we didn’t maximize the talent. You got me on offense, you’ve got [Matt] Stafford, you got Ndamukong Suh on defense. You’ve got some beasts all around the team in key positions that you should be able to have a winning team. We just didn’t have the winning culture though. There’s a lot more than goes into it than having those key players.”
Johnson only appeared in two playoff games and since he retired the Lions have only made the playoffs one additional time.