Leon Halip/Getty Images

Calvin Johnson Retires

Here is the official statement courtesy of the Detroit Lions


Allen Park, Mich. –Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who for the past nine seasons established himself as one of the greatest wide receivers in National Football League history, today announced his retirement from the NFL effective immediately.

Johnson also filed his retirement papers with the NFL today in advance of the new League year which begins at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, March 9.

The Lions also announced, with respect to Johnson’s contract, that those “matters were settled to the satisfaction of the parties.”

“Let me begin by apologizing for making this announcement via a statement and not in person. While I truly respect the significance of this, those who know me best will understand and not be surprised that I choose not to have a press conference for this announcement.

“After much prayer, thought and discussion with loved ones, I have made the difficult decision to retire from the Lions and pro football. I have played my last game of football.

“Let me assure you that this was not an easy or hasty decision. As I stated, I, along with those closest to me, have put a lot of time, deliberation and prayer into this decision and I truly am at peace with it.

“I also 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 be forever grateful to the game.

“With the reality of my decision, I realize there are a lot of people I would like to thank. I must start with my family – thank you for all your love and support.

“I also want to especially thank Mrs. Ford and the Ford Family for all their support over the years. They are tremendous owners and I loved playing for them. I would also like to recognize Mr. Ford, who I was honored to know and play for before he passed away.

“While it would be hard to name them all, I would also like to thank all of my teammates past and present.

“I also want to thank all of my coaches who I played for, in particular Coach Caldwell for his support, wisdom and guidance over the past two seasons. I loved playing for Coach Caldwell.

“There are so many other people I would like to recognize and thank for what they have done for me throughout my career, but rather than risk forgetting someone, I will simply say “thanks” to everyone.

“And finally, to the fans of Detroit and Michigan. I so appreciated your passionate support over the years and truly enjoyed playing for you. I loved playing in Detroit and will forever be a Lion. My biggest regret is that I wasn’t able to help give our fans a championship. But I do believe the future of the Lions is bright and with the leadership from people like Rod Wood and Bob Quinn, who I have gotten to know over the past few months, I am confident that our fans will soon be rewarded with the championship you deserve.

“From the bottom of my heart I thank you all for everything.”

“On behalf on my entire family I want to thank Calvin for being not only a great player for the Lions, but for also being the absolute best representative our team, franchise and community could ever ask for. He was the epitome of dignity, class, humility and excellence. Calvin was exemplary on and off the field and will always be a part of our family and our team. I wish Calvin the very best in all his future endeavors, especially he and Brittney’s upcoming wedding, and I am confident Calvin will be just as successful in the next chapter of his life as he was playing for the Lions.”

“Prior to assuming my current role with the team, like most Lions fans, I was a huge Calvin Johnson fan. The past few months have afforded me the privilege and honor to get to know Calvin in a much different way and I can confirm what those close to him have said many times— as great a player as Calvin is, he is a better person. I sincerely appreciate his professionalism in dealing with what undoubtedly was one of the most important decisions he’ll ever make. Our dealings over the past few months were consistently professional and respectful and we thank him for that. We also appreciate that he made his decision prior to the start of the new League year, the timing of which obviously helps us in our planning and approach to free agency and the draft.”

“For the past nine seasons I knew Calvin like the rest of the NFL – as one of the most dominant players of his generation. Not only was he a great player, but he also set a standard of professionalism that everyone in the NFL respected and greatly appreciated. Over the past couple months I was fortunate to get to know him as a person and became even more impressed. While we all are saddened that his playing career is ending, we should cherish what he did on the football field, knowing he was a generational talent that rarely comes along.

“A harsh reality of our business is that great players like Calvin Johnson do retire and we all understand that no one player could ever replace Calvin. But rather than dwell on that reality, we should, instead, truly appreciate what a remarkable talent we have had the privilege of watching.”

“I’ve had the good fortune during my career to coach and be around some of the greatest players to ever play this game. And although I’ve only been with Calvin for two years, I can tell you that not only is he as good as any player I’ve ever seen, but I am convinced that God has not put a finer person on this earth than Calvin Johnson.

“He truly is one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met and I have as much respect for him as anyone I know. Calvin’s character, integrity, selflessness and humility are unmatched. His exemplary work ethic and approach to the game of football made everyone around him better.

“And while we will undoubtedly miss Calvin on the field, I am at peace with his decision knowing he arrived at it with a lot of thought, consultation and prayer.”

Johnson’s unique combination of size, speed and strength elevated him to one of the League’s all-time greats.

After the Lions drafted Johnson with the second pick of the 2007 NFL Draft, he went on to set every significant career Lions receiving record. He retires as the team’s career leader in receptions (731), receiving yards (11,619), receiving touchdowns (83) and most 100-yard receiving games (46). He also set a team record by recording a reception in the most consecutive games (135), which includes every game he played with the Lions.

Johnson is the only player in team history to reach 700+ receptions, 10,000+ receiving yards and 70+ receiving touchdowns. His 84 total touchdowns, which includes one rushing touchdown, are the second-most in team history.

The six-time Pro Bowl and three-time AP first team All-Pro selection owns the NFL Record for most receiving yards in a season (1,964 in 2012) after shattering Hall of Fame WR Jerry Rice’s record of 1,848 yards set in 1988.

Johnson is the only player in the Super Bowl era (since 1967) to average 120+ yards per game in a season when he averaged 122.8 yards per game in 2012.

Johnson holds the all-time record for the highest average yards per game in NFL history (86.1). He also is tied with Hall of Fame WR Lance Alworth for the most 200-yard games in NFL history with five, and he has the most 200-yard games (6) in both regular season and postseason games.

It took Johnson fewer games to reach 10,000 (115) and 11,000 (127) yards than any player in NFL history.

From 2011-13, Johnson accumulated 5,137 yards and became the only player in NFL history to gain 5,000 receiving yards over the three-year span. Johnson averaged 111.7 yards per game in the 46 games played those three seasons, and he also compiled at least 105+-yard average in each of those three seasons. His 3,645 yards gained in 2012-2013 is also an NFL record over a two-year span.

Only Johnson and Hall of Fame WR Lance Alworth ever averaged 100+ yards per game over spans of 60, 70 and 75 games.
From the time he entered the NFL in 2007, he caught more touchdowns (83) and gained more yards (11,619) than any other player through 2015.

Among the franchise’s single-season records, Johnson holds four of the seven best totals in receiving yards, including 1,964 in 2012 (1st), 1,681 in 2011 (3rd), 1,494 in 2013 (4th) and 1,331 in 2008 (tied for 7th). Of the franchise’s eight best seasons in receiving touchdowns, he owns four of those Top-8 (team record 16 in 2011, 12 in 2008, 2010 and 2013).

Johnson’s most prolific game in his career occurred against the Dallas Cowboys October 27, 2013 when he caught 14 passes for a team record 329 yards, which ranks as the second highest-single game total in NFL history and the most by a receiver in a non-overtime game. In his playoff debut, Johnson recorded 211 receiving yards at New Orleans January 7, 2012 and set a new team single-game postseason record.

Over nine seasons, fans around the world tuned to watch Johnson play in the Lions annual Thanksgiving Day game, and he did not disappoint. In nine Thanksgiving Day games, he caught 11 touchdowns, which is the most ever by a player on Thanksgiving in NFL history. He caught a touchdown in each of his last seven Thanksgiving Day games. This past season, he tied a career single-game high of three touchdown catches against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Johnson was voted by his teammates as the Bobby Layne Offensive MVP Award for six-straight seasons (2008-13). He was twice awarded the NFC Offensive Player of the Month Award (November 2012, October 2013) and earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week four times.

Not only did Johnson achieve on the field, but his community involvement and charity work earned him League-wide respect from players and coaches alike.

Johnson has served the communities of Detroit and Atlanta, his hometown, through the Calvin Johnson Jr. Foundation. Since 2008, CJJF has dedicated its service to the education, training, and social development of at-risk youth, along with providing financial assistance to community organizations. Among the numerous programs includes: providing scholarship awards and books to deserving student-athletes, offering free youth football camps, feeding countless needy families, sponsoring drives to supply holiday gifts and personal care packages to homeless children and children of incarcerated women and participating in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer to raise awareness and money to find cures and support programs and services for those facing the disease.

In addition to his foundation, Johnson supported Detroit Lions community efforts throughout his career and often supported numerous community initiatives led by fellow teammates.

Johnson was named a finalist for the NFL’s Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award in both years (2014, 2015) since its inception.