On Friday night, NFL Network debuted “A Football Life: Calvin Johnson,” the latest installment of the network’s documentary series highlighting the greatest players to ever play the game.
The show documented Johnson’s rise to stardom, his ups and downs with the Detroit Lions and his struggles through injury. Of course, his sudden retirement took up a significant portion of the show, seeing as it shocked many people around the league.
Johnson took time out of the documentary to do something he never made the time to do when he first retired back in 2016: take a minute to address his fans and the fans of the Detroit Lions.
So Johnson, standing in front of the Ford Field stadium that would often sell out just to see him, recited the following speech to not only fans, but everyone who helped him along the way through his Hall of Fame career.
“To address my fans and the people who have supported me throughout my career, while I know it may seem I made an exit suddenly and without deliberation, it was after much thought and discussion with loved ones that I made the difficult decision to retire from the National Football League. Let me assure you that this is not an easy or hasty decision. I, along with the closest to me, put a lot of time, deliberation and prayer into this decision, and I am truly at peace with it.
“I want you to know that I have the utmost respect and admiration for the game of football. It has provided so much for me and my family, and I will forever be grateful to the game.
“There are so many people I would like to thank. I must start with my family. Thank you for all your love and support. You are my greatest motivators.
“While it would be hard for me to name them all, I would like to thank my former teammates. It was an honor and pleasure playing with you. The game has introduced me to many people that remain in my life long after football.
“Thank you to all my head coaches and their supporting coaching staffs. Rod Marinelli, Jim Schwartz, and, in particular, Jim Caldwell for his support, wisdom and guidance over my last two seasons. I’d be remiss if I didn’t publicly give Shawn Jefferson his do as the greatest wide receiver coach in the NFL. He poured so much into his guys on the field but off, as well.
“There are so many other people I would like to recognize and thank for what they’ve done for me throughout my career. But rather than risk forgetting someone, I simply say thank you to everyone.
“And, finally, to the fans of Detroit, Michigan, I so appreciated your energy and passion over the years and really enjoyed playing for you. Through the ups and downs, you supported us, and that made me work even harder on Sundays. My biggest regret is that i wasn’t able to give our fans the championship they deserve. But I can truly say that I gave the game everything I had.
“I will always cherish my time playing in Detroit, and because of that, Michigan will forever be my home.”
You can watch the “open letter” to the city of Detroit here: