DETROIT, Michigan — The 30-year-old receiver, known as Megatron, announced his decision Tuesday to walk away from the NFL after nine mostly spectacular seasons with the Detroit Lions. He had reportedly told some teammates entering last season that it would be his last and told coach Jim Caldwell after the season that he was retiring.
“Let me assure you that this was not an easy or hasty decision,” Johnson said. “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.”
The 6-foot-5 Johnson had 88 receptions for 1,214 yards and nine touchdowns last season, playing through lingering injuries as he often did. He has 731 career receptions for 11,619 yards and 83 TDs. Johnson broke one of Hall of Famer Jerry Rice’s records with 1,964 yards receiving in 2012, a total Atlanta’s Julio Jones approached last season.
Johnson leaves Detroit in a fashion similar to that of Hall of Famer Barry Sanders, who slipped away from the Lions shortly before the 1999 season after he had 1,491 yards rushing as a 30-year-old running back the previous year.
And like Sanders, the quiet and humble Johnson chose to simply release a statement when he retired, while the Detroit Lions released this video tribute via their Twitter page:
Megatron tribute video: https://t.co/SRvfxmyfNMhttps://t.co/dBDtytLnsI
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) March 8, 2016
“Let me begin by apologizing for making this announcement via a statement and not in person,” Johnson said via a release sent by the Lions. “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.”
BY LARRY LAGE