Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson officially retired from the NFL earlier this month. It may have surprised a number of NFL fans, but it did not take Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford off guard. He sort of expected it.

Stafford was a part fo a coaching clinic at his alma mater, Georgia, on Friday. During his time at the clinic, Stafford commented on his reaction to the retirement of his teammate and number one target, Calvin Johnson. Stafford suggested the physical demands of playing in the league took a toll on Johnson.

“Not to say that I expected it, but I wasn’t shocked,” Stafford said in video posted on the Georgia athletics site. “I’ve known Calvin for seven years and know the effort and the attitude that he plays with, and it takes a toll on people. And he was catching quite a few passes and getting hit quite a bunch, and so it takes a toll. And he’s a guy that from an offensive standpoint was touching the ball or carrying the ball just as much as anybody. So I knew the NFL was kind of wearing on him and I just told him, when he told me he was done, I just told him, ‘I’m happy for you if you’re happy.’ And that’s what you want. He’s a guy that gave everything to the game and you want him to be able to walk out on his own terms and feel like he did the right thing.”

Johnson played nine seasons in the NFL, all with the Lions. Over that stretch, Johnson became a star wide receiver while catching 731 passes for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns. He holds the NFL record for most receiving yards in a single season and most seasons with 1,600 yards and he is the fastest player in NFL history to accumulate 10,000 yards. Johnson was a constant force for the Lions offense, but it appears that ended up taking a toll on him over the years.

[Detroit Free Press]

About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Previously contributed to Host of the Locked On Nittany Lions Podcast. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.