By Tom Millikan

A caller this morning suggested that Calvin Johnson is the greatest wide receiver of all time. That’s funny. What a slap in the face to Jerry Rice! Comments like these are reckless and show just how jaded home town fans can be.

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Calvin Johnson is the second best Lion of my lifetime, but that doesn’t mean he is an all-time great. Let’s not glorify Lions players because of how inept the team has been. When you stack up Calvin versus other Detroit athletes you see where he really ranks.

Calvin can’t sniff the jock of Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Barry Sanders, Isiah Thomas, Miguel Cabrera or Justin Verlander. That’s six athletes just in the last 30 years that dwarf what Megatron has done.

In some ways he compares to Sergei Federov. But even Federov ranks significantly above Johnson in my mind. Federov won as an individual by winning the Hart Trophy and as a team player by winning multiple Stanley Cups. Johnson didn’t win anything!

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I strongly believe Calvin Johnson is the most cosmetic Detroit athlete ever. He had arguably the rawest talent in the history of this town. But I think he wasted that talent because he never adopted the winning intangibles that make the real greats GREAT!

His defenders will say “That’s just not who he is” or “You can’t force people to be who they aren’t.” I disagree. Winning takes time. It takes hard work. It takes dirty work. It takes accountability. It takes saying the hard things. It takes leadership. I can’t find any evidence of Calvin Johnson doing any of this. Instead what I can find is a bunch of stats and a guy who made so much money he could call it quits early.

When fans get into the old bar debate who is the best quarterback ever they always bring up winning. Doesn’t the same apply for Calvin Johnson? The Lions went 4-12 in his most glorified season where he set a new record for receiving yardage. How is that any different to Eric Dickerson? Does anybody refer to Dickerson as the greatest Los Angeles athlete ever? No way!

Calvin was a great talent, but I question if he was a winner. He never won a playoff game. He was on the worst modern day NFL team when the Lions went 0-16 in 2008. Is it fair to blame that on him? No! But he contributed to the team.

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I’m probably being too harsh on Calvin Johnson, but in doing so I’m defending the true greats I’ve seen growing up in Detroit. Those greats left it all on the field. I’m not so sure Calvin did.