There aren’t a lot of times when you can be watching a sporting event in any sports and honestly think to yourself you might be watching the best player at their given position. But in the NFL, when you watch Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson you may be doing just that. Tonight against the Atlanta Falcons, during a season that has been forgettable Lions fans have been able to watch Johnson chase and tonight catch history as he sets the single season receiving yards record, with one more game to go.
When you consider just how bare the cupboards are for the Lions in terms of skill players around him, Johnson’s accomplishments are truly remarkable. I’ve always contended that San Francisco 49ers receiver Randy Moss was the best wide receiver I ever saw play. But at this point I think that I might need to re-think that in favor of Johnson. He’s so big and so strong and his strength is not only what he does to get open, but what he can do with the football after the catches it. To compare to Moss, most of his yardage was while the ball was in the air, but for Johnson he is a lot like Hall of Fame wide out Jerry Rice, who he passed tonight, is that he earns it after the catch.
The Lions close out the season against the Chicago Bears and you have to assume with nothing else to play for, getting 2,000 yards and being the only player in league history to do it will be a central focus. For everyone but Johnson that is. For as talented as he is, he’s every bit the professional. Even on the record breaking catch, he was a consumate pro, tossing the ball to the ref and hustling back to the huddle. This in an age where 7 yards out routes generate spontaneous celebrations by some, Johnson is all business. It’s hard not to root for a guy like that.
An interesting footnote to the Johnson record. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is on the cusp of breaking the single season rushing record as well, and if he does it will be the first time both marks have been set in the same season since 1932, which just happens to be the first season stats were kept. We are on the verge of a historic season and Johnson got things going tonight. Congrats to you Calvin Johnson. Truly one of the greats.
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