Former Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson shocked the football world by announcing his retirement earlier this year. He was in the height of a Hall of Fame-worthy career. He was just 30 years old and coming off his sixth consecutive 1,000-yard season.
To some, the surprise was that Johnson gave up millions to move on from a game that he could have conceivably dominated for the next five-plus seasons.
Now, almost a calendar year after he retired, Johnson is making it clear that he has no intention of returning to the NFL.
“I’m not coming back, man,” Johnson said, via Michael Rothstein of ESPN (h/t Pro Football Talk). “Look, man. I got stuff that’s going to hurt for the rest of my life. I got a finger that’s literally bone-on-bone. This bad boy, it gets smaller. The more and more I do, it grinds bone-on-bone.”
This is an interesting dynamic to look at. Unlike of the likes of others who retired early due to injuries or the fear of long-term pain, that didn’t seem to be Johnson’s reasoning at the time.
All this comes a few months after Johnson himself indicated that painkillers were being handed out “like candy” during his playing days (more on that here).
This seems to somewhat line up with the stance that former Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe took following his early retirement. An advocate for medial marijuana in the NFL, Monroe has in the past spoke up about the prevalence of painkillers in the NFL (check out our interview with him here).
Monroe also talked about the daily pain he’s been dealing with since retiring. In reality, this is an issue that’s not limited to these two players. Though, Johnson speaking up candidly about it sure will catch a lot of people by surprise.
“The thing I don’t miss is waking up in the morning, hurting, the grind of the game. I got chronic stuff that everybody has when they’re done playing football for any length of time,” Johnson continued. “So the good thing is I’m able to walk. I feel good. I’m able to spend more time with the fam. I’m able to chill. I don’t have to go out and run three miles every day in practice, you know what I’m saying. Goodness gracious.”
Johnson may have retired in the prime of his career, but it’s rather obvious that he has no interest in returning. To him, it’s all about his long-term health. Returning to football obviously wouldn’t help in that regard.