By: Terry Foster
Calvin Johnson is in pain. That is why he is seriously considering retiring from the NFL.
This is not a ploy to earn more money. He does not want to take a dig at the Lions, the only team he’s played for the last nine seasons.
He is simply in pain.
Johnson, 30, has talked to former teammates about what it is like to be retired.
Do they miss the game?
Are they miserable away from the game?
What are they doing as family men and former players?
“Like many players at this stage of their career, I am currently evaluating options for my future. I would expect to have a decision regarding this matter in the not-too-distant future,” Johnson said in a statement.
The Lions have also issued a statement, “We obviously have profound respect for Calvin and certainly understand and appreciate his decision to give proper thought and consideration to his football future.”
Johnson cleaned out his locker Tuesday and notified the Lions he might be making that move.
Johnson has no desire to play for another team and could leave after nine seasons and in relative good health. He stands to lose at least $24 million in salary but Johnson has already earned more than $160 million in career earnings. He is not known as a spend thrift and should be in good shape for the rest of his career. He could earn millions annually from investments alone from his nest egg.
Johnson has suffered a number of injuries which forced him to miss practices the past few seasons but only three games the past three years. However, Johnson was in obvious pain and took a more secondary role with the team. He finished the 2015 season with 88 catches for 1,214 yards and nine touchdowns. It was just his fifth most productive season of his career. But Johnson’s 13.8 yards per catch was the lowest of his career.
During the peak of his career nobody called him Johnson. He was Megatron, the best receiver in the NFL. He has 11,619 yards receiving and 83 touchdowns. In 2011 Johnson grabbed 96 balls for 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns. A year later Johnson topped that with 122 catches for 1,964 yards and five touchdowns.
He already has a ticket to Canton for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
This does not mean Johnson is retiring. But there is a good chance he does not return to the Lions or the entire NFL.
I spoke to former teammates who said they thought of retiring two years before they left. But they were not as detailed in their questions as Johnson has been. He’s talked about it during the season and he has talked about it after the season ended. The issue of concussions plays a role. Johnson probably has had a concussion or two and does not want to go through it again.
CJ is in decline as a player. However, he still has two or three years left in him if he wants to go through the rigors of training camp. Does Johnson want to go through the pain of training like a world class athlete.
Let’s get one thing straight. It is fun and fashionable to bash on the Lions. This, however, is not a Lions issue. He is not considering leaving because he is frustrated with the organization. He does not like losing but this is more an issue of personal pain rather than being ticked off with the Lions.
We might have to wait a few days or a few weeks for a final decision. Johnson wants to think about it more and others want him to be a few days out before a final decision.
You can reach Terry Foster at Terry.Foster@cbsradio.com.