Few have been able to make highlight plays as consistently as Calvin ‘Megatron’ Johnson.
His speed (4.3 40 yard dash), size (6-5″) and superb hands have always allowed him to make a play on any pass thrown his way – regardless of how many defenders stood in his way.
This week, Johnson followed through on his word and decided that at age 30, he was done with the Detroit Lions and the NFL.
Like fellow retiree Peyton Manning, Johnson joins the conversation as one of the greatest ever at his respective position. And even better than his otherworldly talents and productivity across his career was his down to earth nature and humility, always thinking and expressing his team-first mantra.
Unfortunately for Johnson and Lions fans, playoff successes eluded him but throughout every year of his nine-year career the 6-5″ receiver from Georgia Tech mesmerised fans and even opponents as he made ridiculous catch after ridiculous catch – all whilst celebrating his team mates successes when usually it was actually him carrying the team’s hopes.
The NFL honestly won’t be the same for me without Megatron running amok every Sunday but the game is bigger than anyone individual and I look forward to seeing the next Transformer to take over the league.
Take a look at some of my favourite plays from Calvin, a nice guy off the field and a complete superstar on it;
When in doubt: Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford often found himself under pressure from opposing defenders. When that was the case, it was a safe bet he was going to bail out and give Megatron the opportunity to make a big play – just like he did against the Bengals in 2013. With three defenders in the vicinity and a couple draped all over him, Johnson simply rose above all three and made a phenomenal touchdown catch. Sometimes all Stafford needed to do was throw it in the air and give 81 a chance!
Don’t blink: Two of my favourites went head to head more than a few times. Former LSU cornerback and current Arizona Cardinal Patrick Peterson faced Johnson, usually trying to guard him one-on-one. Peterson often held his own but as this video shows, Johnson became Megatron at the blink of an eye. Johnson caught this pass and took it more than 70 yards for the score.
No the Bengals haven’t switched jerseys: Feel like you are watching the Bengals video again? Nope, it’s just that Johnson routinely made sensational, acrobatic touchdown receptions whilst being triple-teamed. On this occasion, Megatron rose up and as commentator Troy Aikman said, caught the alley-oop from Stafford. Johnson tormented the Cowboys often, including a record breaking 329-yard performance in 2013/14.
Unarguably Johnson’s greatest moment: In 2012, Megatron was more Megatron than at any other time in his illustrious career. He was a model of consistency, going past 100 receiving yards in 11 of the 16 regular season games, including bursting through Jerry Rice’s single-season NFL receiving yard record against Atlanta – with one game to spare in the season. Johnson amassed 1,964 yards in total, a mark which looks unlikely to be topped despite the dozens of impactful receivers and the continued movement towards a passing league.
Do you love Megatron as much as me? (I doubt it) But if you do, feel free to leave a comment and tell me about your favourite Megatron moment or even something you loved from fellow retiree Peyton Manning.