ALLEN PARK, MI – Many may not know the person inside one of the body of one of the most extraordinary freaks of nature to ever play the game of football, the real Calvin Johnson. Unlike the diva personalities we’ve come to expect in wide receivers, Johnson is not like the others.
Many would have a nice vacation and what they would like to spend their money and newly found free time with after a nine-season stent in the NFL, amassing tens of millions of dollars in the process. Calvin Johnson’s made it clear, he would now like to school to finish his college degree.
It’s been on Johnson’s mind for some time now, before he even left school. Johnson declared for the 2007 NFL draft, choosing to forego his senior year of football and school under the promise to himself and his mother that he would return to Georgia Tech and complete his engineering degree.
Even though Johnson was widely regarded to go as the #1 overall pick in the draft, Johnson said the decision was still tough and required lots of thought. Johnson needs about 30 credits to finalize his undergraduate education.
Then GT head coach Chan Gailey said, “[With Johnson] It wasn’t about the money, it wasn’t about the limelight, it wasn’t about getting hurt, it was about the education.”
“I’ve been thinking about it my whole career,” Johnson told ESPN.com on the matter. “It’s just, while I’m playing, it’s not really a great time for me to do it.”
Education has always been a priority for Johnson, who grew up with a simple message from his parents, Dr. Arica Johnson and Calvin Johnson Sr.. That message was to get A’s and B’s in school. Otherwise, forget about sports. Period.
“There was a big emphasis on that since I was a kid,” Johnson said. “Since I was little. All growing up, she was a teacher, an administrator down in the school system in Georgia, in Atlanta. “She emphasized it, that we have to have all A’s and B’s, and we did, you know.”
Johnson even made note in his ESPN E:60 short that he would be going to Georgia Tech to study engineering, secondly mentioning to also play football.
When it came time for Johnson to figure out what he wanted to do with his charitable and philanthropic time while he played in the NFL, his family made a suggestion. Instead of focusing on the events and plans of others his family recommended he start his own foundation, which he went on to do. Focus on education, scholarship and helping the less fortunate. Now, the Calvin Johnson Jr. organization does just that.
Johnson officially announced his retirement after months of hints and speculation with the following statement:
“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.”
Although we won’t see Megatron in a Georgia Tech jersey ever again, we will see him in a Georgia Tech classroom.
As of Tuesday, Calvin Johnson, passing up on the 4 years and 67 million dollars remaining on his contract has officially announced his retirement.