NFL AM: Calvin Johnson Reportedly Told Lions 2015 Was His Last Season


No More Megatron

The rumors of Calvin Johnson’s retirement seem a lot more real now.

An ESPN report stated that Johnson told some teammates, coaches and a close circle of friends before last season that 2015 would be his last year in the NFL.

The Lions issued this statement on Sunday night: “Regarding today’s ESPN report, we stand by our statement issued on Jan. 6 regarding Calvin.”

That Jan. 6 statement read: “We obviously have profound respect for Calvin and certainly understand and appreciate his decision to give proper thought and consideration to his football future.”

Johnson issued a statement about his future immediately following the season.

“Like many players at this stage of their career, I am currently evaluating options for my future,” Johnson said in the statement. “I would expect to have a decision regarding this matter in the not-too-distant future.”

It would be a shame for the Lions to lose Johnson at just 30 years old and it’s eerily similar to Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, who retired at 30.  Sanders retirement seemed to be more about the lack of team success where “Megatron’s” seems to be about health and well being.

When Football Insiders ran into Johnson after a preseason game last season, he seemed particularly tired and in a different type of mood than earlier in his career.  His team would go on to lose 7 out of their first 8 games to put them out of playoff contention.

Another factor that is potentially playing into Johnson’s retirement will be his salary structure.  He is due a $16 million salary in 2016 with a $24 million cap hit.  He will likely have to be restructured and it’s unclear whether or not Johnson wants to take place in those negotiations when he probably has enough money to live the rest of his life well.

In the last year we saw San Francisco 49ers defensive end Justin Smith and linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland each retire.  We could be looking at the beginning of a trend as players are making more money than ever and they don’t want to subject their bodies to the constant punishment that the NFL season gives.

Seahawks Rule Pro Bowl

Of all the Pro Bowls ever played….this was one of them.

In an artificial display of “no tackles not barred” football, Team Irvin defeated Team Rice, 49-27.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was named Offensive MVP after completing 8 of 12 throws, for 164 yards with three touchdowns.

“To see us Seahawks out there is a real special thing,” Wilson said. “It’s a testament to our hard work, and to see two Seahawks out there as MVPs is really cool.”

Teammate Michael Bennett took home the Defensive MVP honors after deflecting a pass and recording the game’s only sack (we were unaware that was allowed).

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson, playing in his first Pro Bowl, caught two passes for a game-high 105 yards with a touchdown.

A record 47 players declined their Pro Bowl invitation this season due to their teams either playing in the Super Bowl, injuries or personal reasons.

“Any time you have the opportunity to play the great game of football, you take advantage of the opportunity,” Wilson said. “Playing in the Pro Bowl is a special thing because to be able to see all the amazing players across the league, who are the best players in the world, and to be able to play on one field together is a really, really cool thing.”

Wilson is clearly preparing himself for a career as a politician.

There was one genuine moment in the game as the Aloha Stadium crowd was able to say goodbye to one of the all-time greats in Oakland Raiders safety Charles Woodson, who announced his retirement earlier this year.

“I really got all the emotions out of the way a few weeks back, but this one is just the icing on the cake for me to be able to make the Pro Bowl, be able to bring my family over here and hang out in Hawaii,” Woodson said. “It’s been great.”

Media Night On Monday

The most insane media session in all of sports takes place in prime time as the NFL will host Super Bowl Media night from 8-11 PM EST.

Occasionally, some great stuff comes from Media Day but it’s usually a parade of cliches and love for one another’s teammates.

Last year’s spectacle revolved around “Deflategate” with multiple people asking players to feel a couple of footballs and asking them which one was deflated.

It’s full of both self-important media types in bad suits trying to get their 15 minutes of fame along with the utterly ridiculous (man wearing only a barrel, Spanish television networks using puppets to ask questions and Johnny Weir from last year).

Our guess is that this year will be more of a love-fest between the two teams, as the Panthers have been effusive with their praise of Peyton Manning, despite his physical limitations.

“He’s going to go down as if not the greatest, one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play this game and you don’t just lose that overnight,” Davis said, via USA Today. “You look at some people talking about his arm strength — but the Patriots game [the AFC Championship], it looked pretty good to me.”

The Panthers will share the love about Manning.  The Broncos will do the same regarding Cam Newton, and anything outside of complete adoration will be taken as a slight and used for “bulletin board material.”

Long live Media Day Night.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.