When Did Calvin Johnson Retire?
Football can be a wild ride, on and off the field, and it takes a special athlete to make it all the way to the NFL.
Every year, it’s estimated that more than 16,000 college football athletes compete for less than 300 spots on one of the nation’s 32 teams that make up the National Football League.
To make it to that level of play, an athlete must not only have amazing skills, but they will need the mental focus, leadership abilities, and tenacity that will be required to play such a demanding sport.
So when a player like Calvin Johnson comes along, lots of people sit up and take notice. Let’s learn why.
1. Calvin Johnson Started His Career at Georgia Tech
Born in 1995 in Newman, Georgia, it may be understandable why Johnson chose Georgia Tech as the place he wanted to play football.
Born into a tight-knit family, Johnson’s mother was an educator and insisted he prioritizes his schooling.
In fact, when Georgia Tech wanted him to play football and baseball, his mother said no, it would be too demanding on him and make his schoolwork a challenge to complete.
In his three years at Georgia Tech, Johnson left a legacy and broke many of the team’s records, including receiving yards for a year, receiving yards for a season, Rookie of the Year, and Player of the Year, among many others.
During his junior year, Johnson served as captain for his Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets team. He was then drafted in the NFL 2007 draft and was the number one draft pick that year.
Calvin Johnson was inducted into the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 2016, and it is widely believed that he was possibly the best athlete ever to play for the Yellow Jackets.
2. Calvin Johnson Played Nine Seasons for the NFL
After being chosen as the #1 draft pick in 2007, Calvin Johnson signed a six-year contract to play for the Detroit Lions. The contract was worth over $60 million, making Johnson the highest-paid player at that time in Lions history.
The contract also came with a guarantee of just over $27 million, which was the most money a wide receiver had been guaranteed up until that time.
Johnson’s career ended up spanning nine seasons with the Detroit Lions, during which he saw much success and was a popular favorite amongst fans and his team members alike.
During his time playing for the Lions in the NFL, Johnson would set many records for himself, including being ranked by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 for several years in a row and being invited to play in the Pro Bowl on six different occasions.
Despite his retirement after nine seasons, Johnson left the Lions on a high note, having run 1,214 yards in his final season, the most yards ever run by a player in their last season. He also received 88 receptions that season, which was the second most a wide receiver had received in their last season of play.
3. Calvin Johnson Sustained a Back Injury That Made it Impossible for Him to Continue to Play
Despite all his success and his seemingly bright future in the game of football, Calvin Johnson announced his retirement from the sport in March of 2016.
The world of football was shocked at his decision. No one believed that such a talented player would be leaving the game when his skill was so strong and he was in such high demand.
But shortly after his retirement, Johnson shared that he had been suffering from a back injury that was making it increasingly difficult for him to play the game.
It had taken a physical toll on his body and a mental one as well.
Johnson’s back injury was inflicted during his first year with the Lions. Even though he took five weeks off once the pain became unbearable, his spine didn’t heal properly, and he continued to play over the course of the next nine seasons through the pain.
In an effort to curb the discomfort, Johnson took pain pills and other medications, as well as worked out with trainers and physical therapists, but the pain persisted.
Finally, after a strong college career and nine great years in the NFL, Johnson decided it was time for him to leave the sport of football at the age of 30 years old.