Detroit Lions: A letter to Calvin Johnson, a Hall of Famer and role model

(Detroit Free Press)
(Detroit Free Press) /
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Detroit Lions, Calvin Johnson
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

Calvin Johnson’s induction speech really encapsulated his legacy with the Detroit Lions.

I could ramble on about his accolades and highlight plays, but his induction speech impacted me differently. Johnson discussed his achievements on the field, including thanking those that made it possible, but he centered his speech around what the game has led him to do since walking away from it.

Calvin Johnson spoke last night about how he suffered through a lot of physical and mental pain during his career. As a result, he has become an advocate for mental health. He has devoted his life to helping those dealing with these issues, making a point of it during his speech.

"“That (my) legacy is improving quality of life for athletes and others,” Johnson said.  “For those who are out there suffering in silence and living in pain, for those who feel like there’s no hope for better days, with my partnerships, I’m committed to helping people elevate their wellness.”(Courtesy of his Hall of Fame Induction Speech)"

At this moment, Johnson became a role model. He stepped away from football at the apex of his career simply to help those with the same issues. He advocates for plant-based medicine, even sitting on the board of directors of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association. In 2019, Harvard allowed him to be part of cannabis experimentation about CTE. Johnson remains a difference-maker on and off the field.

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As someone who suffers from depression and severe anxiety, Johnson’s speech motivated me.

Just because we suffer from these mental illnesses daily, it is reassuring to see someone I idolized deal with the same issues. His work continues to impact lives every day.

Calvin, you have made such an impact on the NFL, but an even more significant impact on my life. I would not change one second of it. Congratulations on your well-deserved induction. It was an honor to watch you perform every week.

Thank you for what you have done to the game of football, but most importantly, my life.

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