In news that has been reported since after the Detroit Lions' season ended but still seems like a shock, the next transformation for the man they call "Megatron" could be to change into a former NFL player.
Numerous sources, including our friends at Pride of Detroit, are reporting that wide receiver Calvin Johnson has told the Lions that 2015 was his final NFL season, and that he will be hanging up the cleats.
Johnson, the second player selected overall in the 2007 NFL Draft (the same draft that saw the Minnesota Vikings select Adrian Peterson) is the Lions' all-time leader in virtually every receiving category. In his career, he has caught 731 passes, accumulated 11,619 receiving yards, and has found the end zone 84 times (83 touchdown receptions and a rushing touchdown). In 2012, he set the single-season NFL receiving record when he recorded 1,964 receiving yards. While Johnson played in all 16 games this past season, he was a weekly fixture on the injury report with ankle injuries and had several games towards the end of the season where he looked as though he was an afterthought in the Lions' offense.
In fifteen career games against the Vikings, Megatron caught 81 passes for 1,095 yards and nine touchdowns.
In all of my years of watching football, I'm not sure if I've ever seen a more physically gifted wide receiver than Calvin Johnson. Yes, Vikings fans got to watch Randy Moss in his prime for seven seasons, but Megatron did pretty much everything Moss could do, and did it while being 25 pounds heavier. He, like Moss, was the rare receiver that defenses had to account for on every snap, and there was a stretch of a few years where he was flat out uncoverable by opposing defensive backs.
While it will be nice to not see him beating up on the Vikings twice a year, it's a bit depressing to see a player of Megatron's caliber say that he's hanging it up. Maybe he'll have a change of heart sometime between now and the start of the 2016 season, but for now it looks like one of the greats has played his last snap in the NFL.