If you haven’t watched the NFL Films piece, “Dear Calvin Johnson”, narrated by former Bears cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman, here it is.
In it, Tillman narrates an open letter to the Lions legend talking about how difficult it was for he and his fellow defensive backs to defend against him, but what an honor it was to do so in the process, and he’d know having to defend Megatron twice a year for nearly a decade. Real recognize real, in other words.
As both men retired on their own terms this offseason, it made sense for Tillman to narrate the piece among the many other corners in the league that likely share his sentiments.
Today, Johnson responded to the piece and Tillman on Instagram:
The respect between the two men is clearly evident here, and it’s respect that goes beyond each other’s boundless talent. More often in the NFL we as fans hear about the feuds, those who are struggling and less about the respect that these amazing athletes often garner not just from the outside, but from the inside too.
The NFL is certainly worse off without Calvin Johnson terrorizing opposing corners every Sunday and even though Tillman was one of those corners, it doesn’t change how the two respected each other, and that’s not something often publicized enough in the NFL.
Let’s hope both men are enjoying retirement and can find a way to dominate whatever’s next like they did on the football field.