In a surprising move today, Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman compared Calvin Johnson to Lebron James. The comparison comes as a surprise because it was shortly after Tillman’s teammate Henry Melton called the Lions “dirty” and had nothing nice to say about them.
Tillman was asked about how he could keep the Detroit Lions star receiver from putting up great numbers. “He can do everything. He’s the Lebron James of football. If you could create a player-that’s Calvin Johnson. Size, speed, hands, agility, quickness, strength,” Tillman said praising the recent NFL record breaker. In the Lions last matchup with their NFC North rivals, Johnson was held to a season low 34 yards on three receptions. The game is the low point of Calvin’s record breaking season where he has posted 1892 yards and eight consecutive 100 yard games.
The comparisons between James and Calvin center around athletic ability and domination at their position in their respective sports. However, the comments by Tillman could also serve as unfortunate foreshadowing for the underperforming Lions.
Calvin is following a similar path as the Lions star. In six seasons with the Lions, Calvin has watched his team put together a 29-66 record with one lonely playoff game. It seems apparent that Calvin will face the same career Barry once had in Detroit. Calvin will be the star of his team, but will never be able to chase the Championships he dreamed of as a young child.
Barry Sanders was the star of the lions from 1989-1998. After watching his team put up a 78-82 record with six NFL Playoff games (1-5 record), Sanders retired from the sport he loved at the young age of 31. Sanders retirement shook the NFL and Lions and the running back remained quiet on the subject for several years. However, it is now apparent that Sanders quit the game due to poor management and a lack of winning ways in Detroit. Sanders is also rumored to have wanted a trade out of Detroit to play for a contender.
Perhaps, Calvin will pull a move similar to Lebron. After seven years with the Cleveland Cavaliers, James decided to take his talents elsewhere. James led the Cavs in scoring and even helped the team in the NBA Playoffs, but the team failed to build a Championship contender team around him. In a nationally televised decision, Lebron announced he was leaving the Cavs to join the Miami Heat. “I have chosen to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat. It gives me the best opportunity to win and for multiple years. I want to be able to win championships,” Lebron told viewers.
As a young Lions fan, I watched Barry walk away from the game after years of wasted time in Detroit. It pains me to think about Calvin leaving the Lions as a Lions fan and season ticket holder. However, I have to put myself in his shoes and consider his options going forward. I would be upset by such a move that separates Calvin and the Lions, but wouldn’t be burning his jersey like some Cavaliers fans did with James announcement. The good news is the Lions have several key pieces and are only one year removed from a 10-6 season. The team needs to realize that they are a championship caliber team and play like it in the 2013 season.
In March, Calvin signed an eight year contract extension with the Lions. The current contract will have Johnson playing his football in Detroit through the 2019 season, pending a trade or retirement. Let’s hope in that time, the Lions can become a contender. I see three potential scenarios for Calvin while he is attempting to break other NFL records: stay with a contending Lions team, ask to get traded, or wait until free agency in 2020 and sign somewhere else.