By Will Burchfield
Golden Tate went to Calvin Johnson’s wedding back in June. He watched his former teammate dance.
How did he look?
“Stiff,” Tate laughed.
Tate’s skepticism of Johnson’s dancing talent was echoed across the Tigers’ locker room on Tuesday, after it was announced that Megatron will compete on the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars.
“He’s gonna do awful,” said a straight-faced Ameer Abdullah. “I mean, that’s a given.”
“I know he’s stiff. Dear god, he’s stiff. It’s not good news,” Abdullah added.
Glover Quin didn’t give Megatron much of an endorsement either.
“He’s a great football player – I don’t know how good of a dancer he is though. He’s tall, I don’t know, it’ll be interesting.
“Maybe he’s got some skills that we don’t know about.”
Wide receiver T.J. Jones said it will help that Johnson is inherently competitive, but only to an extent.
“It’s a foreign territory for most of us. You can be as competitive as you want to, but at the same time you’re going to be counting steps in your head. It’s not going to come second nature so it’s going to take a different mindset,” he said.
Through his playing days, which included six straight trips to the Pro Bowl, Johnson was known for his fancy footwork along the sidelines. But it remains to be seen if that nimbleness will transfer to the dance floor.
“It could,” Quin said. “Wide receivers generally have good feet. I don’t know, dancing – it’s a lot more going on, it’s a lot of details that unless you’re a dancer you don’t really know about body postures and all this stuff.”
Jones was similarly hesitant to make a connection between football and dancing.
“Maybe the footwork, maybe being in shape, used to working out, having to be conditioned to perform a routine. There’s definitely some things that can pan out, but it’s a very different sport,” he said.
Either way, the Lions are happy that the public will get a chance to see Megatron in a different light.
“He’s stepping outside of his comfort zone and that’s something I like,” Tate said. “I know him on a more personal level because I played with him for two years and we’ve become buddies. I’ve seen that goofy, fun side of him, and I hope the world can see that because I think sometimes people just see Calvin as Megatron and this elite athlete and that’s it.
“I think he has a phenomenal personality, he’s very, very intelligent, and hopefully people will see that.”
Jones, like Tate, knows there is more to Johnson than meets the eye.
“If you know his personality and being kind of a quiet jokester, a fun guy, wanting to get out and do different things, [joining the show] does fit into his personality,” he said.
Abdullah, on the other hand, thinks the recently-retired Johnson is just looking for ways to pass the time.
“Calvin’s on Dancing with the Stars? He’s bored,” Abdullah chuckled.
If all else fails for Megatron when it comes time to perform, perhaps he can win back a few voters with his 1,000-watt smile.
“Absolutely,” Tate said. “That smile can light up a whole room.”
Dancing with the Stars kicks off on Sept. 12 at 8 p.m.