The Lions return to Monday Night Football for the first time in a decade. Before kickoff, a guy who last played in the NFL a decade ago will sit down with Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson for an interview that will include a few bites of fried crow.
Cris Carter has interviewed Johnson for a feature that will be included in the ESPN pregame show. Less than two months ago, Carter created a stir by omitting Johnson from Carter’s personal list of the top five NFL receivers — and then by stubbornly refusing to change his mind. (Recently, Carter did.)
Johnson tells the team’s official website that Carter had an explanation for the slight. “He just goes off what he knows,” Johnson said. “He told me that he didn’t know what I was. I can’t blame him for that. We haven’t been out there like that as a team.
“But now he knows.”
But that’s not what Carter said in August. Here’s what Carter said: “Calvin Johnson, he’s very, very good at Madden and Tecmo Bowl or whatever they’re playing now. But on film, when I watch film, and I break down the film, he’s not to the point of these guys yet.”
The more accurate explanation, in our view, is that Carter simply forgot Johnson as he reeled off a list of five receivers in response to a question posed during an appearance on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning. When Mike Greenberg pointed out that Carter omitted Calvin Johnson, Carter couldn’t acknowledge to a pencil-necked, never-played-the-game guy like Greenberg that Carter had made a mistake. And so Carter dug in his heels.
Since then, Carter has ping-ponged. He initially backtracked, but then he tried to explain away the slight by claiming that Calvin’s quarterback can’t stay healthy. Most recently, Carter has called Johnson the “king of the NFL.”
It’s fitting, then, that the king will be interviewed by a guy whose stubborn refusal to admit a mistake transformed him, at least for a few weeks, into the NFL’s court jester.