It’s a good thing that: (1) there’s a five-year waiting period before consideration for the Hall of Fame; and (2) Twitter doesn’t control who gets in. Otherwise, half the former fantasy-football stars would rocket to Canton upon retirement.
Today’s “give him a gold jacket and bronze bust RIGHT NOW!” candidate would be former Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, who retired Tuesday after nine NFL seasons.
Some are calling him a first-ballot Hall of Famer, which will never happen. Jerry Rice was the last receiver to get in on the first try, and until someone beats his records every great receiver will have to be patient for at least a year — especially with a de facto waiting list from which Marvin Harrison recently escaped and on which Terrell Owens will now stand.
Owens undoubtedly will get in, as will Randy Moss, at some point after his first year of consideration. For Johnson, the question isn’t when he will get in but whether he even should.
Because he burned bright for several seasons, we assume he did it long enough to be among the all-time greats. He didn’t.
Johnson is 43rd on the all-time receptions list, behind the likes of Santana Moss, Donald Driver, Andre Rison, Eric Moulds, Chad Johnson, and Roddy White. Keenan McCardell, for crying out loud, has more than 150 more catches than Calvin Johnson.
On the all-time yardage list, Johnson finishes at No. 27 with 11,619 — and he’ll likely be 29th after Brandon Marshall and tight end Jason Witten pass him by this season. Derrick Mason, Jimmy Smith, and Irvin Fryar all have more yards than Johnson.
Johnson’s 83 touchdown receptions is good for 22nd all time, behind Mark Clayton, Irving Fryar, and Andre Rison.
Then there’s the fact that Johnson not only has no Super Bowl wins, but also has zero playoff victories. Before he gets in, Reggie Wayne, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt should give their own speeches at the football stadium next to the museum.
Yes, Johnson had three phenomenal seasons, with 1,681 receiving yards in 2011, 1,964 yards in 2012, and 1,492 in 2013. But with only nine total NFL seasons, it’s not enough. He could have chosen to play a few more years, in the hopes of adding to his numbers and perhaps winning a playoff game, or two. He chose not to, and that’s fine. But it ultimately won’t be enough to earn a bronze bust — especially as he gets passed on the career achievements lists by the next wave of players who may spend a lot more than nine seasons in football — from Antonio Brown to Julio Jones to A.J. Green and to whoever the inevitable next big thing will be.