Richard Sherman calling himself ‘Optimus Prime’ for matchup with Megatron

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has changed his name on his Twitter profile to “Optimus Prime” ahead of Sunday’s contest with the Detroit Lions, indicating he’s prepared to match up against Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

Johnson has gone by the nickname “Megatron” for years. Megatron is a character from the fictional “Transformers” comics, and he is the leader of the bad guys known as the Decepticons. Optimus Prime is the leader of the Autobots, which are known as the good guys in opposition to the Decepticons.

Sherman’s Twitter name change is a strong indication that he will be covering the All-Pro wide receiver during Sunday’s game in Detroit. Though he did make the name change, Sherman downplayed the matchup with Johnson.

“Same challenge as every week,” he said per Danny O’Neil of The Seattle Times.

“I don’t care who’s out there. It’s the league, boy, they’re going to have a good receiver out there every week where it’s Fitz (Larry Fitzgerald), Steve Smith, you’ve got Brandon Lloyd. No different. It’s good receivers.”

Though he’s only in his second season in the league, Sherman is rapidly developing a reputation around the league as a talker. He’s the same player who taunted Tom Brady after the Seahawks came back to beat the Patriots in Week 5.

Sherman also responded to San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh’s complaints that the Seahawks defensive backs played too physically against the Niners receivers.

“Sometimes, man, when the bully gets bullied, that’s how that happens,” Sherman said.

“He’s the same guy who said the other guy was irrational and ignorant for talking about the refs.”

Sherman’s comments about “the other guy” were a reference to what Harbaugh said about Giants coach Kevin Gilbride prior to the 49ers-Giants game.

Yup, this Sherman guy can talk.

Calvin Johnson on getting hit: ‘You get concussed, you gotta keep on playing’

Calvin Johnson and the NFL have very different views on the issue of concussions. The league has spent a good deal of time, money and effort over the past couple of years trying to make the game of football safer — or at least create the illusion that they are doing so. Team doctors now have the authority to keep players off the field if they fail concussion tests, but none of us are naive enough to think it is that cut and dry.

According to Johnson, who took a helmet-to-helmet shot from Minnesota’s Chad Greenway two weeks ago, getting a concussion and heading back onto the field is all part of the game.

“He rung my bell pretty good, he got me, he caught me around the chin, that was a good hit,” Johnson told The Stoney and Bill Show on 97.1 The Ticket, according to CBS Detroit. “It’s a part of football, you get concussed, you gotta keep on playing. You can’t get afraid to go across the middle any more than you were at the beginning.”

Johnson said the Lions medical staff gave him a basic concussion test that included following their finger and answering questions about what day of the week it was and what game he was playing in. On Thursday, head coach Jim Schwartz said Megatron was thoroughly evaluated before reentering the game.

“Our evaluation was he was not concussed, he was thoroughly checked, we are very strong in our evaluation,” Schwartz explained. “He was cleared to go back in the game … We are very strong in our evaluation. We are, we as an organization, we have some credibility when it comes to concussions, so just leave it at that.”

This past weekend, Robert Griffin III reportedly failed the same type of test Johnson was given and did not return to the game, so obviously the issue is taken seriously. That being said, in an era where players choose law school over football because of the risk of head injuries and others openly admit to lying about concussion symptoms to get back into a game, the NFL doesn’t want to hear Megatron talking about playing while concussed.

Helmet knock to Pro Football Talk

Larry Fitzgerald: Take Calvin Johnson over me in fantasy because he has better QB

Larry Fitzgerald is widely recognized as one of the best receivers in the NFL, but the six-time Pro Bowler says he would take Calvin Johnson ahead of himself in fantasy football because the Lions have a better quarterback.

“Megatron and Matthew Stafford have a great connection up there in Detroit,” Fitzgerald said in response to a fan’s question. “They put together a phenomenal year — 5,000 yards by Stafford — so I would definitely take Megatron and Matthew Stafford. They got it going. We have some questions right now in Arizona. We’ve got to work training camp out to figure out who our starting quarterback is going to be. So as of today, I think that’s the say choice.”

Fitzgerald is allowing the possibility for Arizona’s quarterback situation to improve, but he’s not hiding his honesty. His reason makes complete sense, too.

Fitzgerald caught 35 touchdowns between 2007-2009 and averaged 98 receptions and 1,311 yards per season during that span with two-time MVP Kurt Warner as his quarterback. In the two years since Warner retired, Fitz has averaged 85 receptions, 1,274 yards and seven touchdowns per season. Those are still standout numbers, but not spectacular like his stats with Warner.

Calvin Johnson meanwhile is teaming with Matthew Stafford to form the best QB-WR duo in football. The matter is really out of Fitzgerald’s hands, and we can’t fault him for stating the obvious.

Here’s video of Fitz making the statement:

[Read more...]

Calvin Johnson beats Cam Newton for Madden ’13 cover

Calvin Johnson is getting the recognition and notoriety a player of his caliber deserves, but maybe it’s not the kind he should want.

The Lions receiver won the voting to appear on the Madden ’13 video game cover. He topped Panthers quarterback Cam Newton with 52% of the 651,790 votes cast in the finals.

The voting was done as a 32-player tournament where each NFL team had one representative. Johnson beat Dwayne Bowe 92%-8% in the first round, Arian Foster 73%-27% in the second round, Rob Gronkowski 63%-37% in the third round, Aaron Rodgers 67%-33% in the semifinals, and Newton 52%-48% in the finals.

The announcement was made on ESPN’s “SportsNation” show on Wednesday afternoon, where both finalists said they didn’t believe in the infamous “Madden Curse.” Last year’s cover winner, Peyton Hillis, also said he didn’t believe in the curse, but that was before he had an abysmal season for the Browns, which changed his mind.

Last week, Lions receiver Nate Burleson said he was going to vote for Calvin because he thinks his teammate can break the curse. Lions fans better hope that is the case. Given the history of the cover curse, I would be worried.

Photo Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

Nate Burleson believes in the Madden Curse, thinks Calvin Johnson can break it

If Calvin Johnson winds up winning the Madden cover vote and suffers an injury next season, Lions fans may blame more than just the Madden jinx. Those who are particularly superstitious could take aim at Nate Burleson. Burleson, who claims to be a big Madden fan, admitted to Mlive.com that he believes in the Madden cover curse. Despite that, he says he is still going to vote for his fellow receiver.

“Yeah, I’m going to vote for him,” Burleson said before adding that he believes enough players have suffered injuries to legitimize the curse. “I’d love to see my guy on the cover of Madden. I’m a big Madden fan. … If any guy can break the curse it’s Calvin. This dude is a monster. He’s strong enough to break tackles, so he can break a curse.”

Johnson is one of four finalists and is currently matched up against Aaron Rodgers in the semifinals. As for being enough of a beast to break the curse, Peyton Hillis looked like just that coming off his monster season in 2010. Injuries then derailed his 2011 season and Hillis became a believer.

So if you’re one of those people who is superstitious enough to wear the same socks and underwear every Sunday of the NFL season, you can now thank EA Sports and Burleson if Megatron misses any time in 2012. Falling victim to a jinx is one thing, but Burleson’s decision to add a jinx on top of a jinx could spell trouble for Detroit. Or maybe his jinx will jinx the jinx and all will be well. No one really knows how these things work.

Photo credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

Calvin Johnson Flies Lions Wide Receivers to Pro Bowl as a Thank You

Unfortunately for all you die hard Pro Bowl fans out there, the best receiver in the NFL will not be able to participate this weekend.  Calvin Johnson has been nursing a sore Achilles tendon, meaning he will have to miss the big game.  However, he is still going to attend.  According to the Detroit Free Press, he’s even bringing some friends along for the ride.

Johnson flew all of his fellow Lions wide receivers out to Hawaii on Tuesday by way of a private jet — including those who are on the practice squad.  He may not be able to play in the game, but how can you say no to a week-long vacation in Hawaii after a long season of getting tossed around?

Kudos to Calvin for the nice gesture.  If he had stayed home and watched the game or flown out by himself, no one would have said he’s a jerk for not including his teammates.  Not all professional athletes light up the newspaper headlines by saying and doing boneheaded things.

Calvin Johnson’s Touchdown Streak, Lions’ Winning Streak Snapped

The scuffle between coaches Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz Sunday received most of the attention around the NFL. Because of it, many people overlooked that two Lions streaks ended.

Calvin Johnson did not score a touchdown in a game for the first time this season. After setting an NFL record with nine TDs in the first five games, Megatron finished the game against the 49ers with 113 yards on 7 receptions. The numbers were good, but none of those catches resulted in six points.

Additionally, San Francisco’s 25-19 victory handed the Lions their first loss of the season. Dating back to the last season, Detroit had won 9 straight games entering Sunday’s contest.

So two streaks come to an end. Maybe the trick to beating Detroit is to keep Megatron out of the end zone. Of course, that’s much easier said than done.