The Detroit Lions are blessed to have the most physically gifted wide receiver in the NFL in Calvin Johnson, and it goes beyond the fact that he is the best wide receiver that this league has to offer. Johnson is much different from some of the self-obsessed wide receivers in the league who can be simply dubbed as “divas”, with the most diva, another C. Johnson by birth, has made rounds again by being arrested for breaking probation.
Meanwhile, Calvin Johnson is in the news for playing through broken fingers last season, and he confirmed this to Lions beat guy Chris McCosky. The number of broken fingers that Johnson suffered from is rumored to be three, but he did not confirm that total. Johnson won’t undergo offseason surgery, but McCosky tweets that he is “trying to straighten them out”. This isn’t the only injury that Johnson played through last season, and yet he still managed to break the single-season record for receiving yards with a whopping 1,964 yards on 122 receptions.
We’ve seen Johnson bail out Matthew Stafford on plenty of occasions, and it is clear to me that he makes an average quarterback look good with his ability. There is no doubting that Johnson is a monster who can do it all, and “Megatron” is really the only fitting nickname for him. Everyone has taken notice of Johnson’s immense talent, and he has been rolling in various accolades, including being the Madden Cover guy.
However, what goes somewhat unnoticed and overshadowed by his on-field play is his mentality. Johnson is truly a team-first player based on how he has soldiered through injuries, the loyalty he has shown to the Detroit Lions, and the comments he has made, including ones today.
Johnson told MLive.com that the accolades mean nothing to him if the Lions aren’t winning,
“That’s exactly where we’re at,” Johnson said. “It’s funny because I talked to (former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver) Hines (Ward) in the offseason, over the last few offseasons, because we share the same trainer (Tom Bender). He ‘s like, ‘You can have all the accolades in the world, but it doesn’t really mean nothing’. He told me, and he could attest to this, (it does not mean anything) if you’re not winning. I could have three touchdowns and 200 yards, but if we lose the game, what’s it all for?”
Hines Ward is exactly the right person to talk to in this case, and I feel like Johnson has the same mentality as Ward did. Both are/were tough players who put the team first, and thus became fan favorites. Johnson looks at things with the perfect perspective and the winning mentality that we all want to see in a superstar player. He later said that he is going to everything in his power to help the Lions win and bring a winning culture to the Lions organization.
I always believe that players who do what they can to put the team in the best position end up with the most accolades, team success (the most important thing), and are generally viewed in a much more favorable light. It’s safe to say that Johnson is headed in that direction, but there are 52 other men on the Detroit Lions roster. Johnson is doing his part, and now it’s up to those other players and the organization as a whole to do theirs as well. The Lions have been criticized for bush league tactics and such, but they are headed in the right track and those sorts of tags tend to stick more than they should. But it’s not all about Johnson either, and he knows it; he’s just trying to make his team better.