By: Will Burchfield
Calvin Johnson retired from football at the age of 30 to save his body.
He might not have shut it down soon enough.
In a recent interview with Bleacher Report, Johnson suggested that football did him more harm than good.
“As much as you love a sport, and I don’t want anybody to think I don’t love that sport, but the amount of energy you have to put into it just to get to the season…All the energy, all the pain, sweat and tears that go into it, the amount I had to put in to get me to where I had to play, it was more taxing on me physically and mentally than it was good for me,” he said.
“It just got to the point where I tipped over the scale. The pain and energy wasn’t fun anymore, just to battle.”
Megatron took such a beating in the NFL that he had trouble getting out of bed in the morning toward the end of his career. When he did, he had to shuffle across the floor.
In some ways, he’ll never leave football behind.
“I got aches and pains all time that aren’t ever going to go away,” he said. “But that’s part of it.”
Years of catching passes and sparring with defenders also took a toll on Johnson’s hands. He had surgery to fix a mangled finger last summer and another one is beyond repair.
“I got a messed-up finger that keeps on getting smaller by the year the more I use it. It’s bone on bone,” he said.
Johnson enjoyed a lucrative, extremely productive nine-year career in the NFL. He could have played longer, but he made a decision for his family and his future.
“I was able to do well for myself, make a statement in the league. I had a heck of a time doing it, but at the end of the day, it’s about me and my family and being comfortable and being fun. And it wasn’t,” he said.
It was a story about San Francisco Giants pitcher Jeff Samardzija that triggered the interview with Johnson. Samardzija, a former wide receiver at Notre Dame, could have pursued a career in football but chose baseball instead. It’s a decision that Megatron respects.
“It’s cool because football, as much as it gives, it takes away a lot, too,” said Johnson. “If he can sleep better at night knowing his body is going to be better off playing baseball than football, then that’s a good thing.”