Calvin Johnson’s smile was as big as his playing days when Chris Berman introduced him at the start of Sunday night’s Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony. His day has finally arrived.
Megatron is a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
Sunday night wasn’t only a special moment for Johnson. It was a special moment for the city of Detroit. Throughout his nine-year career with the Detroit Lions, nearly 65,000 fans packed Ford Field every Sunday for one reason.
And that was to marvel at what Johnson would do next.
Yes, fans attended games because they love the Lions. In the modern-day era, the Detroit Lions haven’t won a playoff game. And let’s not forget the 0-16 season. So it’s a special kind of love to support a team as they have with the Lions.
Also, Johnson wasn’t the only player fans went to see. After all, former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford won the hearts of the Lions fanbase throughout his 12 years in Detroit. And even after requesting a trade, he still has some of their hearts. Then there are guys like Ndamukong Suh.
Suh only played five seasons with the Lions. Despite that, his impact was significant in such a short time. As Lion, Suh had four Pro Bowl nods, three All-Pro selections, and won the 2010 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award. He carried a nasty demeanor on the field. And his badass mentality fits the “Detroit Vs. Everybody” mantra down to the letter.
Both Stafford and Suh were dynamic Detroit Lions players.
But not like Megatron.
When Matthew Stafford torched the Dallas Cowboys on Oct 27th, 2013, Johnson is the one who caught 14 of those passes for 329 yards and one touchdown. And a year before that, he’s the one who lit up defenses all year en route to breaking Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record (1,964).
The Lions could always count on Johnson to produce. He was their “Mr. Reliable.” Excluding his rookie season, Johnson never had a season under 984 yards receiving. And even then, that 984 only happened once. From 2008 until his career’s end, Johnson had 1,357 yards and nearly ten touchdowns per season over a 15-game average.
But by now, most reading this are aware of his accolades. However, people were not aware of the details of his Hall of Fame speech before Sunday night. What Johnson would say and whom he’d thank was a hot topic all week in Motown.
Which teammate would he thank? Would he show any love to the Lions? Those were some of the biggest questions.
“Classy” is the best word to describe Calvin Johnson’s speech.
When Johnson’s time to speak came, the cosmos aligned, as Megatron delivered on Sunday one last time. Before speaking, Johnson had to tell those in attendance to “Chill out” and “sit down” as he stood at the podium. The emotions and magnitude of the event almost broke him. Overcome with pride, Johnson spoke and delivered a concise speech for the ages.
Knowing that he had a restricted time limit, Johnson didn’t rattle off a long list of names while giving thanks. He did, however, thank those from his hometown, Atlanta, to his now-home, Detroit.
“I want you to know that I know who you are, I know what you’ve done, and I know how you’ve impacted me,” said Johnson during his speech.
From there, Johnson’s speech to an interesting turn, as he decided to discuss “moments, people, and legacies.”
Johnson discussed how his rookie season was a defining moment in his career. During his rookie season, Johnson suffered a severe back injury that he thought would be career-ending.
From there on, he discussed the “Megatron” nickname’s origins again and how he dealt with pain throughout his entire playing career. Still, while discussing it, Johnson showed no signs of regret.
“I left it all on the field and enjoyed every moment,” said Johnson.
After addressing his pain, Johnson decided to acknowledge those who live in physical pain daily, like he did, showcasing a rare case of empathy not seen in a Hall of Fame speech.
“I want you to know that I see you, and you matter, and to fight, and to do your best, and to never give in to the pain,” said Johnson.
He continued his speech thanking his former players, coaches, and of course, the Detroit Lions fans.
“When we were 0-16, you never stopped showing up. You were disappointed, but you never stopped showing up. Every week you showed up. And this motivated me to do the same thing for you,” said Johnson.
“You’ve loved me and my family unconditionally over these fifteen years. I want you to know Michigan is our home. Detroit is our city. And Lions are our pride.”
Johnson’s classiness didn’t stop there.
After thanking his family for their love and support, Calvin Johnson turned his attention back to those in pain, stating that while he solidified his football legacy, his life legacy is a chapter he’s still writing.
“Plant Medicine” Advocacy from Megatron
Calvin Johnson closed his speech advocating for “plant medicine” to help the people he mentioned in pain, including current and former athletes. Johnson and his formers Lions teammate Rob Sims launched Primitv Elevated Wellness, a cannabis brand. Their mission is to is:
“to act as a leading light in the cannabis industry by supporting efforts to provide holistic relief for patients who struggle with chronic illness and pain while educating the public on the health benefits of marijuana.”
It’s no secret that the abuse of painkillers runs rampant in the NFL. And Johnson is determined to showcase cannabis as a safer alternative for athletes in the NFL and beyond.
Sunday night wasn’t the time to discuss repayment. Nor was it the time to converse about a Lions reunion. From the time he stepped up to the podium and exited, that moment was about Calvin Johnson.