As a change of pace to all of the preseason game and roster talk that has been going on, I thought I would post this mostly to stimulate appreciation for Calvin Johnson. That we might bask in the glory of watching him enter his prime and think about how great it will be to watch him over the remainder of his career. We don’t often get to witness things like this on our team’s roster.
As I was thinking the other night I pondered the great amount of publicity Megatron has gotten this off-season. It got me thinking, what would he have to do to become the "Greatest" Lion in history. The first question this raised was, "who is the greatest player in Lion’s history now?" For me that was a no-brainer; Barry (although there are perhaps some fans who got to see the glory days of the 50’s who would pick a star from those times) and I think most would agree with me there.
So, how does Calvin measure up to Barry? Both have been the current best player at their position. Both are among the all-time elite at their position. Both are the focal point of their team offense and of the opposing team defense to stop. Both are hard working and humble (you know, that attribute which exemplifies the leaders of Detroit sports teams in my lifetime like Steve Yzerman, Barry, Isaiah Thomas, Nick Lidstrom, Rasheed Wallace…ok, maybe I’m getting carried away here). Both consistently make jaw-dropping plays.
Difficult to differentiate the two based on these criteria. How about how far they took the team? In the Barry Sanders era the Lions won 1 playoff game, and the farthest they made it into the post season was losing to Washington in the NFC championship game. The Lions made the playoffs 5 times and won the division twice. Since Calvin Johnson they have made the playoffs once as a wildcard, and lost. There is still much to do in this regard.
What about individual records? Barry finished his career with 15, 269 rushing yards (1,457 yards behind Walter Payton, and 3,086 yards behind Emmitt Smith) which stands as 3rd best in NFL history. His 99 rushing TDs places him 8th, and his 18,190 total yards (4th) and 109 total TDs (10th) are also notable. He led the league in rushing 4 times, total yards twice, and most rushing and total TDs once. Barry also holds a number of other NFL records, many of them involving his year after year consistency. Calvin currently has 5,872 receiving yards (6,039 total yards) and 49 receiving TDs (50 total) which puts him 17,023 receiving yards (17,501 total yards) and 148 receiving TDs (158 total TDs) behind record holder Jerry Rice. Johnson has tied Cris Carter’s record of 4 consecutive games with 2 receiving TDs. It would take Megatron another 10 years with the same numbers as last year to eclipse Rice in yards and TDs. A few more years like last year and he could be in Barry territory record wise.
While having a conversation with a family member his answer was: take them to the Super Bowl…at least. That seemed only somewhat fair to me, because why did he have to do what Barry did not? If he accomplishes a very similar amount will he still be held in lower regard? So I ask you, what does Calvin Johnson need to do in his career to make him the Greatest Detroit Lion in your book?