Detroit Lions: 30 greatest players in franchise history

Detroit Lions. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
DETROIT, MI – NOVEMBER 26:  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

50. . Wide Receiver. (2007-2015). Calvin Johnson. 2. player

The best contribution that former Lion wide receiver Roy Williams graced Detroit fans with was bestowing ”Megatron” as the nickname for Calvin Johnson. For his sheer size and talent alone, that nickname was most appropriate for the mild-mannered wideout.

There was a time in the league where one of the most feared QB-WR combinations featured a Georgia Bulldog throwing to a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket. Though quarterback Matthew Stafford’s Bulldogs are fierce rivals to Johnson’s Yellow Jackets, the two Lion teammates combined to terrorize opposing defenses for seven years to the tune of 58 touchdowns.

“Megatron” excelled throughout his career in an area that consistently befuddles some wide receivers: catching the ball in traffic. Johnson, more often than not, was able to defeat double coverage, triple coverage and exotic defensive packages specifically designed to stop him.

In 2011 and 2012, he led the NFL in receiving yardage with 1,681 and 1,964 yards, respectively. His total for the latter year broke Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record of 1,848 yards. In 2013, during a memorable win against the Dallas Cowboys, Calvin set a single-game record for receiving yards during a regulation NFL game with an impeccable 14-catch, 329-yard performance.

The most physically imposing receiver of his era may have been quiet in person but on the field, his play screamed out his football excellence. He was a first-team All-Pro three times and he was voted to the Pro Bowl for his last six years in the league. Prior to his early retirement, Johnson came down with 731 catches for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns.

Though his decision to hang up his cleats after just nine seasons and the subsequent handling of his retirement by Detroit’s front office has placed his relationship with the team on a tenuous level, the two sides are working their way back towards amicable terms.

Johnson’s status as a team legend makes him a desired presence at Lion home games. I for one am looking forward to seeing No. 81 embraced by Lions fans once again.