The honor of a player having their number retired is one of the best traditions across all sports. But unfortunately, only a few are inducted into the Hall, so there needs to be a way to honor those who impacted their small pond but failed to make a splash in the biggest.
It seems automatic for first-ballot Hall of Famers to have their numbers eternally remembered, but not in one organization. It’s a complicated situation. It always is in Detroit.
Megatron Vs. The Fords
In 2016, Calvin Johnson shocked the NFL when he announced his retirement. After only nine seasons, Megatron stepped away from the game, following in Lions legend Barry Sander’s footsteps. Lightning does not strike twice; sadness does.
While ownership obliged and respected his request, they requested that he return his bonus from that season, $1.6 million—such an odd request for someone that gave your franchise the tiniest glimpse of hope. But I digress.
Since then, the relationship has not fully healed. During Johnson’s return to Ford field a season ago, fans booed Sheila Ford, owner, off the field. Johnson has been vocal about how things ended in Detroit but is optimistic about a return to civility.
Calvin Johnson Belongs In The Rafters
Calvin Johnson is the reason I love the Detroit Lions. Watching the Patriots dominate the league for nearly my entire life, I needed a change. I needed to find another larger-than-life player to idolize.
He embraced the name Megatron. Defenses could not find a way to stop him. The Bengals once tried triple-covering him; it did not work out.
Megatron 50 yard TD catch over 3 Bengals defenders 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/3VBAJGM8c0 — Gabriel (@OnlyBeingMe31) March 25, 2020
He played for less than a decade. He said he would have played for another team before deciding to hang up. The Lions refused to dish him. Imagine a QB like Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, or Jared Goff could use him. If the Rams jumped the gun a few years earlier, Stafford would not be a shoo-in for Canton.
Johnson’s accolades could be an entire blog. He revolutionized the position, paving the way for players like D.K Metcalf, Kyle Pitts, and Ja-Marr Chase.
Unfortunately, the Lions’ poor front office and head coaching forced Johnson out the door before he could hit full stride. He does not have a ring; it seems the next best option is his number watching over the next era of Lions’ football flourish.