4. Calvin Johnson, WR, 2007-
I recognize having an active player on a greatest of all-time list may be a bit unconventional. However, Johnson comes in at number four on our countdown based solely on his career accomplishments to this point.
Johnson has re-written the Lions record books before he reached the age of 30.
Coming out of Georgia Tech, Johnson was hyped to be one of the best wide receivers of all time.
Although he did not start the game, Johnson had an impressive NFL debut on Sunday, September 9, 2007, catching 4 passes for 70 yards and his first career touchdown in Detroit’s 36–21 win over the Oakland Raiders. Fellow teammate Roy Williams nicknamed Johnson “Megatron”, due to his large hands being similar to that of the towering Decepticon.
Johnson and the 2008 Detroit Lions finished the first ever 0–16 season in NFL history. Despite the Lions’ failures, Johnson finished as one of the strongest wide receivers statistically for the season, finishing fifth in receiving yards (1,331) and 7th in receiving yards per game (83.2), and leading the league in receiving touchdowns (12). However, Johnson missed the Pro Bowl, with most experts attributing the snub to the Lions’ dismal winless season (he was named an alternate instead).
Johnson finished the 2009 season with 67 receptions 984 yards and five TDs, while completely missing two games.
Johnson amassed 77 receptions for 1,120 yards and 12 TDs during 2010. He was also selected to the first Pro Bowl of his career
on December 28. Following the 2010 season, Johnson was the recipient of the Lions/Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association/Pro Football Writers Association (Detroit Chapter) Media-Friendly Good Guy Award.
In 2011, Johnson had his best statistical season of his NFL career, reaching a career-high 1,681 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. The Lions also made the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, eventually losing to the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome, 45-28. In the game, Johnson caught 12 passes for 211 receiving yards and two touchdowns – breaking Detroit’s playoff record of 150 receiving yards in a playoff game previously held by Brett Perriman and Leonard Thompson.
On March 14, 2012, Johnson signed an 8-year extension worth $132 million with the Detroit Lions, with $60 million guaranteed, making Johnson the highest-paid receiver in the league.
Johnson would earn his payday.
From week 9-16, he recorded consecutive games with 125 receiving yards or more, which broke the NFL record previously held by Pat Studstill. On December 22, 2012 against the Atlanta Falcons, Johnson broke Jerry Rice‘s single-season receiving yards record of 1,848 yards. Johnson was also named a starter for the NFC in the Pro Bowl. Johnson finished the season leading the league in receptions with 122, along with receiving yards with 1,964.
On October 27, 2013, in a 31–30 win over the Dallas Cowboys, Johnson caught 14 of 16 passes thrown in his direction; he finished the game with 329 receiving yards and one touchdown. In addition to breaking the Lions’ franchise record of 302 receiving yards set by Cloyce Box on Dec. 3, 1950, it was the highest receiving yardage ever in a regulation-length game and the second-highest overall single-game yardage in NFL history, behind Flipper Anderson‘s 336-yard performance in a 1989.
- Most receiving yards in a single season: 1,964 yards (2012)
- Most receptions in a single calendar month: 49 receptions (December 2012)
- First player with at least 2 receiving touchdowns in each of his team’s first four games of a season (2011)
- First NFL player in history to have consecutive seasons with at least 1,600 yards receiving (2011, 2012)
- Seasons with 1,600 yards receiving (2) – tied with Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt
- Most consecutive games with at least 100 receiving yards (8)
- Most consecutive games with at least 10 receptions (4)
- Most 100 receiving yard games in a single season (11) – tied with Michael Irvin
- Most consecutive games with at least 2 receiving touchdowns (4, tied with Cris Carter)
- Most receiving yards in a four-quarter game in NFL history (329 yards)
- Most receiving yards in back to back games (484 yards)
- Most career games with 200+ receiving yards (5, tied with Lance Alworth)
- Most receiving yards in a five game span (861 yards)
- Most receiving yards in a six game span (962 yards)
Lions franchise records
- Most receiving touchdowns in a single season: 16 (2011)
- Most career touchdowns (67)
- Most seasons with 10+ receiving touchdowns: 4
- Most career 70+ yard receptions: 8
- Most games with multiple touchdowns in one half: 12
- Most receiving yards in a single game: 329, against the Dallas Cowboys on October 27, 2013. This is the 2nd most in NFL history behind Flipper Anderson (336).
- Most career receiving yards (9,328)
If Calvin Johnson never played another down of football, he would deserve this ranking. Whatever franchise receiving records he doesn’t already own, he is within a season or two’s striking distance of. By the time he finished his current contract, he should own not only every Lions receiving record but a number of NFL receiving records as well.
Be sure to stay logged in to Detroit Jock City for the culmination of out Detroit Lions top 50 players of all-time countdown!