How Does Calvin Johnson Compare?
With Calvin Johnson’s retirement, there are plenty of questions as to where he lies in the conversation of ‘all-time greats’. He doesn’t have the Super Bowls of Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin. He doesn’t have the numbers of Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. People will knock Calvin because he doesn’t have a playoff win, but what more do you want the man to do? He played on the worst team in NFL history, and broke the receiving yards record. Winning games is a team effort, wide-receivers can only do so much, and Calvin did more. Those are all questions and debatable topics. In all of the shock and surprise of Johnson retiring, wondering if it’s the Lions that made him lose love for the game or truly the reasons he states, there is one truth.
Calvin Johnson is the physically the greatest and most dominant wide receiver to ever play the game of football.
Six foot five. Two-hundred and forty pounds. Four point three five forty yard dash. All of those attributes shouldn’t belong to one human. It doesn’t make sense. Think of Dez Bryant, who is often compared to Calvin Johnson in the conversation of big bodied receivers. They seem similar, until you realize Bryant is three inches shorter, twenty pounds lighter, and runs two tenths of a second slower than Johnson. With his immense size, it doesn’t make sense how he makes graceful sideline catches. How can one person stretch the defense like DeSean Jackson then go get the ball in the end zone like Rob Gronkowski? It doesn’t make sense how he can control his body to adjust to the ball in the air. None of it makes sense, yet all of it is real.
Throw out careers. Throw out Super Bowls. Throw out numbers. Look at the people. Rice is 6’2” 200 pounds and ran the forty in the high 4.6s low 4.7s. Owens is 6’3” 225 and ran a 4.45. Irvin 6’2” 202. The only one who gets close to Calvin Johnson is Randy Moss at 6’4” and a *4.25 forty yard dash. (*Moss ran the 40 before the electronic timer and hand times tend to run fast. It’s likely he was just as or a little bit faster than Calvin). Even after that, Moss is still forty pounds lighter. If I’m given the choice to have one receiver for one season in his prime, I’m taking Calvin and not thinking twice. The top notch pro and more. The man that simply put, just doesn’t make sense.
So during the next week, when all of the networks debate Calvin’s legacy, whether he will be a first ballot hall of famer, know that none of it matters. He was physically the greatest wide receiver to lace up cleats, and he will be dearly missed. Thank you, Calvin.