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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.

Matthew Stafford-Calvin Johnson Form Best QB-WR Tandem in the NFL

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Anyone who reads LBS knows we’ve been fans of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson for a long time. Only injuries to either player (mostly Stafford) limited what they could accomplish together. Now that both players are healthy, we’re seeing how dominant they are. They’re currently forming the best quarterback-wide receiver partnership in the NFL. Let’s take a look at the best current tandems in the league.

Top 5 Quarterback-Wide Receiver Tandems

1. Matthew Stafford-Calvin Johnson

Stafford and Johnson have combined for nine touchdowns through five games. That’s the most touchdowns any player has scored the first five games of a season. Calvin is threatening Randy Moss’ 2007 record of 23 receiving touchdowns in a season (he’s on pace for 29 touchdowns). He’s fifth in the league in receiving yards with 451, and tied for eighth with 29 receptions.

The tandem has combined for 31% of Detroit’s passing yards this season, and 56% of the team’s offensive touchdowns.

Ready for this? In the 17.5 games they’ve played together, they’ve combined for 16 touchdowns. Few combinations in history can compete with that kind of success.

2. Tom Brady-Wes Welker

[Read more...]

Calvin Johnson Now Rocks a Megatron Transformers Hat (Picture)

Calvin Johnson is hands down the best receiver in the NFL. When you’re as good as he is at making plays, you do what you want. That includes embracing your nickname in any way you please. According to MLive.com, Johnson busted out the Transformers Megatron hat you see above on Monday night after the Lions beat the Cowboys to improve to 5-0.

The symbol on the hat is that of the Decepticons, which is the group of Transformers Megatron leads. Roy Williams gave Calvin the name back in 2007 because of his size and physical ability, and as Justin Rogers of MLive.com pointed out it has to be one of the sickest nicknames in sports. When you have the ability to burn a defense the way Johnson does, it’s only fitting that your nickname should equate you to a massive machine. Expect to see a massive spike in the sale of these hats in the coming days.

Calvin Johnson Says Ball Automatically Goes to Him in Single Coverage

Generally speaking, NFL teams can’t double-cover one receiver for an entire game. It takes a complicated defensive scheme to assure one particular person is double-covered from start to finish, so there are bound to be a few plays during a game where guys like Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald find themselves one-on-one with a defender. As you already know, Megatron tends to seize the moment when those instances occur.

The Cowboys did a decent job of covering Johnson in the early part of Sunday’s game, but they may have gotten complacent in the second half.  When Terrence Newman lined up by himself across from Megatron at the goal line before the most important play of the game, Calvin knew the ball would be coming his way.

“If we get that single coverage, it’s automatic it’s coming up to me,” Johnson said according to Pro Football Talk. “When I went out there I was surprised (the Cowboys had me single-covered). I knew it was coming from the get-go.”

Rob Ryan did a lot of talking leading up to Sunday’s game and then ended up learning the hard way.  If he had listened to Todd Haley he would have been better prepared to deal with No. 81.  While Megatron’s comments can be construed as boasting, I don’t doubt what he says is 100 percent true.  When Matthew Stafford sees Calvin in single-coverage there’s no need to call an audible.  Everyone on the field should know what’s coming.