Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford says his former teammate Calvin Johnson got worn down by the physical realities of playing in the NFL.
Stafford said at a coaching clinic at Georgia that after catching 731 passes in his career, Johnson had had enough.
“Not to say that I expected it, but I wasn’t shocked,” Stafford said, via the Detroit Free Press. “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.”
When PFT asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for his reaction to Johnson’s retirement, Goodell said he doesn’t see early retirements as a player safety problem. But there does seem to be an increasing concern among NFL players that playing a few extra years may carry more risks than rewards. The game does take a toll, and a lot of players would rather walk away too early than too late.