Detroit Lions: Calvin Johnson wanted to be drafted by hometown Falcons

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Before the 2007 NFL Draft, Detroit Lions legend Calvin Johnson hoped to land with his hometown Falcons.

The Detroit Lions used the second pick in the 2007 NFL Draft to select Georgia Tech’s star receiver, Calvin Johnson.  Reciever’s and the NFL draft go hand-and-hand surrounding the Lions, but this time drafting Johnson became a tremendous success.

It was a Detroit Lions organization that drafted Charles Rogers with the second overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, and the year after decided to take Roy Williams with the seventh overall pick.  The trend continued the following year as the organization chose to select Mike Williams out of USC with the tenth overall pick in 2005.

It was in 2006 that the Detroit Lions shifted gears and decided against keeping the first-round wide receiver draft pick trend alive.  Detroit used the tenth overall pick on linebacker Ernie Sims.  It was in ’07 Detroit finally hit a home run picking Calvin Johnson, who’d go on to not only become the Detroit Lions greatest pass-catcher, he’d become one of the best receivers in NFL history.

Recently on a podcast hosted by former Lions safety Glover Quin, Johnson mentioned he’d really hoped to be picked by his hometown Atlanta Falcons in ’07.

"“Sitting there leading up to the draft, I am like shoot, boy I hope I go to Atlanta,”“Played my high school ball, played my college ball right here and then, playing in the NFL right here. That would be the best little thing ever. OK, Atlanta got No. 7. I might not be there. I hope they trade up to get me.”“I didn’t honestly want to go to Oakland,” Johnson said. “Didn’t want to go across the country. Didn’t want to go to Detroit. So far north. That’s the thing about the NFL. Nobody has control over really where you’re going unless you’re Eli Manning.”"

There is no real shade thrown towards Detroit here by Johnson.  He was born in Newnan, Georgia, before going on to star with the Yellow Jackets.

Johnson decided to put his health at the forefront of his mind deciding to retire after just nine NFL seasons, all with the Lions.  Miraculously, he amassed 11,619 yards on 731 receptions totaling 83 touchdowns.  The sure-fire Hall of Famer left Detroit with more to give, but similar to Barry Sanders, the constant losing takes its toll on a player.

In the past, Johnson also had stated the organization never made his health a priority.  He claimed the franchise didn’t treat him well as a player, especially late in his career.  Johnson had aspirations to play elsewhere, but Detroit refused to terminate his contract.

Things between Johnson and Detroit became sour after Detroit retained a portion of his signing bonus, but that’s a situation the organization is relatively familiar with; they also retained $1.8 million from Barry Sanders after he abruptly retired.  Business is business.

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Recently Johnson had been named to the NFL’s 2010-All decade team.