Jerry Rice: Calvin Johnson is retiring at age I entered my prime
Calvin Johnson is expected to retire from the NFL before his 31st birthday, which is almost unheard of for a player of his caliber who is still capable of performing at a high level. To Jerry Rice, it could not be more foreign of a concept.
On Wednesday, Rice noted that he was still smack-dab in the middle of his prime when he was Johnson’s age.
“It’s just unfortunate to see him (walk away) because he’s around, like, 32,” Rice said, per Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. “I was just coming into my prime at his age.”
Rice isn’t wrong. As Meinke mentioned, Johnson has 731 catches for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns in his career. Rice had 610 catches for 10,273 yards and 103 touchdowns before his 31st birthday, and he went on to play another 12 seasons. Megatron has played nine total. In the 12 seasons after he turned 30, Rice had 939 catches for 12,622 yards and 94 touchdowns.
The numbers are truly staggering, but it is unfair to equate Johnson’s situation with Rice’s.
“I mean, I think the thing with him is that if he can’t be 100 percent, he doesn’t want to just be on the field,” Rice said. “There’s a lot of money he’s walking away from. He’s walking away from, like, $27 million. But he doesn’t want to be that type of player.”
Johnson is said to have played through a lot of pain last season. Not to mention, we know a lot more about the long-term health issues associated with football now than we did when Rice played. If that plays a role in Johnson’s decision, it’s hard not to respect that.
One former teammate of Johnson’s unloaded on the Lions recently for not doing enough to convince Megatron to return. If it’s truly health that Johnson is concerned about, no amount of persuasion should matter.