Calvin Johnson says improbable Super Bowl played into retirement

27 DECEMBER 2015: Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) walks off of the field at the conclusion of the game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions during a regular season game played at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire)
Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire

Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson cited the bruisings that come with an NFL career as his reason for retiring prior to last season after a prolific nine-year career.

However, the Lions made the playoffs just twice in his career and never advanced past the first round. Johnson on Tuesday said to ESPN that the Lions’ lack of success also played a role in him calling it a career. 

Johnson was speaking to reporters in Italy as he presented the game ball at the Italian Bowl XXXVII.

“Of course, I thought about it,” Johnson said. “Just like in basketball, you know, guys, they create these superteams. But it’s not quite like that in football where I had the freedom just to go.

“I was stuck in my contract with Detroit, and they told me, they would not release my contract, so I would have to come back to them. I didn’t see the chance for them to win a Super Bowl at the time, and for the work I was putting in, it wasn’t worth my time to keep on beating my head against the wall and not going anywhere.”

Detroit made the postseason last year but was again bounced in the first round, losing to the Seattle Seahawks.

Johnson was a six-time Pro Bowl selection with the Lions and broke Jerry Rice’s NFL record for single-season receiving yards in 2012, notching 1,964. He also had 12 catches for 211 yards and two touchdowns in his first postseason appearance in 2011, which was a loss to the New Orleans Saints.

The Lions selected Johnson with the second overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft out of Georgia Tech.

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