It has become second nature for many Detroit Lions fans to call Calvin Johnson by his nickname of ‘Megatron’, but few folks probably realize how that name actually came to be.
As it turns out, former Lions teammate Roy Williams played a role in Johnson getting one of the top nicknames in NFL history. According to Johnson on an episode of The DB Room with Glover Quin, the wideout started using the name on the rookie over the summer heading into his first season in the league to tease him and it managed to stick.
“2007 I think the first Transformers came out. The movie came out that summer, we’re getting ready for the first season. Roy (Williams) just started calling me this ‘Megatron’ or whatever. When I was a kid, I knew Transformers but I wasn’t a fan. Originally I thought Megatron was a good guy. I thought he was Optimus Prime. Then I realized he was the bad guy. I was like alright, it’s cool, I’ll be the bad guy to the defense,” Johnson joked. “He just started calling me that, and it didn’t really catch on until a year later. You’re big and fast, this movie just came out. It’s perfect timing. 2008, that’s when the announcers starting using it.”
Williams departed the scene in Detroit by virtue of a midseason trade in 2008, and the stage was cleared for Johnson to morph into Megatron officially and take over as the top option in Detroit. He did that and then some, putting up insane numbers the rest of the way in his Lions career. More than that, he routinely made highlight reel catches which helped the nickname stick in a huge way
Now, saying ‘Megatron’ in Detroit doesn’t evoke thoughts of a superhero movie at all, but rather an imposing 6-5 wideout that changed the game at his position. For that, Williams deserves plenty of thanks.
Sheila Ford Hamp Must Reconnect Lions With Calvin Johnson
In the aftermath of taking over as owner, Ford Hamp has spoken of what she wants to do and what she must learn upon taking over for her mother Martha Ford. Right now, however, the biggest goal the organization must have at the top level should be to re-connect with Johnson.
Johnson has been embroiled in a public feud with the team at the highest levels over money that he was made to pay back from his signing bonus after he retired. As a result, he’s kept his public distance from the franchise and hasn’t made a point of coming around the team facilities much since retirement. Johnson’s been busy with other endeavors, but hasn’t made it a point to connect with the Lions whatsoever even given plenty of chances to do so.
In the next few years, Johnson will find himself on the Hall of Fame ballot. Whether he cracks Canton on his first try or not, the team needs to be on good terms with their star wideout given that could happen in the future. It’s on Ford Hamp to drive the change and pay Johnson whatever he needs to make the frustration go away. It’s also on the Lions to send the message from the top that this will not be happening into the future.
If there’s something Ford Hamp needs to work to remedy, it’s the feelings of frustration former Lions have like Barry Sanders or Johnson upon walking away. Too many team legends have left the picture frustrated, and for the team, that can no longer be acceptable. It’s on ownership to remedy this for the future and come up with a plan to keep the best team alumni happy.
With new ownership, the slate should theoretically be clean for fans as much as Johnson himself. It’s time for ownership to meet Johnson halfway and make him feel appreciated once again. It might be the biggest short term goal the team should have under new leadership.
Calvin Johnson’s Hall of Fame Case Examined
Johnson is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2021, and it’s interesting to see some of the hype he is getting as it relates to making it to Canton next year. Recently, John Breech of CBS Sports debated some of the candidates for Johnson’s class, and explained their chances.
When it came to Johnson, Breech explained the potential ups and downs of Johnson trying to get the call next year. Here’s a look at his conclusion:
“You can definitely make a strong argument that Calvin Johnson belongs in the Hall of Fame, but Megatron might have a tough time getting in during his first-year of eligibility, and that’s mainly because his career was so short. Johnson decided to retire after just nine seasons, and that was mainly due to two reasons: His body was beat up and he was fed up with the Lions. As a matter of fact, Johnson actually did a recent interview where he took another shot at his former team.
“First thing, I’m like, ‘Whoa, this is how you should take care of your players,'” Johnson told the Behind the Mask podcast. “I go to Miami — it ain’t like Miami’s winning, but they’re taking care of their players … I go to Oakland, I’m like, ‘Damn, we don’t have none of this in Detroit.'”
Despite his sour relationship with the Lions, he did thrive during his time with the team. During his nine-year career, Johnson led was named an All-Pro three times and he led the NFL in receiving yards twice. Megatron also led the NFL in receptions in 2012 when he caught 122 passes. The impressive thing is that he did all of this even though he was usually the focal point of every opponent’s defense. During that 2012 season, Johnson finished with 1,964 receiving yards, which is still the NFL’s single-season record. As a matter of fact, no player in the NFL has even finished a season with 1,900 yards.
The biggest knock on Johnson is that he never really played on any good Lions teams. During his time in Detroit, the Lions went just 54-90 and he went 0-2 in the playoffs. Of course, no one will be blaming those losses on Johnson, especially his first one. Back in January 2012, Johnson caught 12 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-28 loss to the Saints.”
Johnson would seem to be a lock to make it to the Hall of Fame eventually given what he did in the NFL for years and also given the way he changed the game at wide receiver. For that, he earned accolades as well as his nickname which will always be one of the top monikers in NFL history.
Calvin Johnson Lions Statistics
Since he came into the league with the Lions in 2007, Johnson wasted little time putting up great plays and amazing statistics. In his career, Johnson put up 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns and more than that, was a human highlight reel unlike any other receiver on the list. Out of Georgia Tech, Johnson was labeled as one of the freakiest players in the draft and he lived up to that distinction in the NFL.
Johnson shattered Rice’s record of 1,848 receiving yards during the 2012 season and was a stable force for the team, often playing through pain and discomfort on the field. He walked away following the 2015 season, leaving a gaping hole in Detroit’s wideout group. Since, Johnson has been embroiled in a feud with the Lions for the last few seasons over money that the team made him pay back upon retirement.
The hope is Johnson can make up with the Lions before that time, as he continues to roll in the accolades following his career. There is simply no forgetting how good he was, and those memories continue to linger for everyone who loves the game.
Forever, Johnson will always be Megatron to the fans in Detroit, and a source of pride for all those who watched him perform superhuman acts on the field.