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Will Calvin End Up Being A Greater Lion Than Barry?

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DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 30:  Wide receiver Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions is tackled by Cornerback Champ Bailey #24 of the Denver Broncos after a reception during the second quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 30, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

DENVER, CO – OCTOBER 30: Wide receiver Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions is tackled by Cornerback Champ Bailey #24 of the Denver Broncos after a reception during the second quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 30, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

2005-0308-dt-wojnowski126 K) Bob Wojnowski
Bob "Wojo" Wojnowski has covered sports in Detroit since before the...
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By: Bob Wojnowski

Some will call it sacreligious to suggest, but I’m gonna do it anyway. Will Calvin Johnson end up having a better career than Barry Sanders? Yep, I think he will.

Sanders played 10 seasons for the Lions and retired as the NFL’s second-leading rusher. He’s now third behind Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton.

Five seasons into his career, Johnson ranks 169th on the all-time receiving list with 5,872 yards. But if he maintains his current pace and plays another nine seasons — hey, Jerry Rice played 20! — he’d end up second on the career list, behind only Rice and ahead of such luminaries as Terrell Owens, Isaac Bruce and Tim Brown.

So if he stays healthy, will Johnson end up as the Greatest Lion of the Modern Era, passing Sanders? I’ll say yes, partly because the Lions are a better organization now and more likely to win, and partly because in his own way, Johnson is nearly as much of a physical freak as Sanders was.
Am I being ridiculous? Nope. (At least not any more than usual).

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