After months of speculation, the news has finally arrived. The Detroit Lions have announced that wide receiver Calvin Johnson has retired following a nine-year career in the NFL. The Georgia Tech product retires with 731 receptions, 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns.
Johnson departs the NFL ranked No. 43 in receptions, No. 27 in receiving yards, and No. 22 in touchdowns. He is the Lions franchise leader in all three categories. He set the single season receiving yardage mark in 2012 with 1,964 yards. He also has the second most receiving yards in a single game, with 329 yards. It's safe to say he had one heck of a career.
Is it enough though to get him in the Hall of Fame? On pure talent, he is a Hall of Fame wide receiver. However, with injuries cutting his career shorter than some expected, he could find himself waiting on the Hall of Fame. There is a log-jam of receivers, with only one seeming to get in at a time.
I would vote him into the Hall of Fame if I had a vote. He might not have the counting stats, but when I think of Hall of Fame talent, I think of players who were the best at what they did. Johnson was an absolute monster of a receiver at his peak. It was not as long a peak as other players, but I feel it was long enough to justify a Hall vote.
My favorite memory of Johnson was a completely random game. I don't know who they were playing, but I recall Johnson running a deep route into the back of the end zone. There were three defensive players in his vicinity. I recall Megatron waving his arm at Matthew Stafford, in a "chuck it up" motion. Stafford threw it into the end zone (I believe it was a 30- or 40-yard pass), and Johnson went up over three defenders to get it. It was an absolutely ridiculous catch, but looking back, it is not all that surprising Megatron made the catch.
His retirement also goes to show just how ridiculous Jerry Rice's career was, and really a lot of the top receivers in league history. Football is an intensely physical game, with the average career in the single digits. Rice played 20 seasons, and put up great to ridiculous numbers for the vast majority of his seasons. He put up Hall-worthy numbers just after his 30th birthday. This is not to take away from Megatron's career, but rather to show just how ridiculous a receiver Jerry Rice was.
All that being said, I hope Megatron gets a spot in Canton.