The Detroit Lions haven’t had a Hall of Fame player crack Canton, Ohio on his first try since Barry Sanders in 2004, but they are pushing ever closer to having yet another player join that club in Calvin Johnson.
Tuesday, Johnson was revealed to be one of four players who are first ballot semifinalists for the Hall of Fame. He joins Charles Woodson, Jared Allen and Peyton Manning on the 25 player list. Allen and Woodson were former rivals of Johnson during his time in the NFC North, and Manning was one of the best quarterbacks in the last 30 years in the league.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 24, 2020
Obviously, Johnson will have a long road toward making the Hall of Fame, but the fact that he’s been able to get this close in his first try is notable. Many don’t know whether Johnson will crack the ballot immediately or if he will have to wait, but at the very least, he’s still alive to chase down the dream of wearing the gold jacket.
The next step for Johnson? He will have to make it through another 10 cuts as the list whittles down to 15 players and later 18 with the inclusion of coach, contributor and senior committee additions. From there, the list will be expected to be between four and eight players who will crack the Hall of Fame.
Certainly, Johnson has some work left to do in order to make it to that select bunch, but at the very least he remains in play for the honor moving forward.
Calvin Johnson’s Career With Lions
Over his career, there were few people more productive who changed the game the way Johnson did. He was a physical specimen and also had the stats to match in order to prove his dominance over others who played his position at the time.
After breaking into the league with the Lions back in 2007 when he was a top pick in that season’s draft, Johnson didn’t hesitate to put up great plays and amazing statistics. In his career, Johnson managed a total of 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns and more than that, was a human highlight reel unlike many other receivers he matches up with on the list. That’s similar to the impact Barry Sanders made. Out of Georgia Tech in college, Johnson was labeled as one of the freakiest players in the draft and he lived up to that distinction in the NFL at nearly every single turn right up until the moment he retired after the 2015 season. It’s rare to see a player not only live up to his draft potential but exceed it, and Johnson did.
Johnson shattered Jerry Rice’s record of 1,848 receiving yards during the 2012 season on the field and was constantly a great player for the team, often playing through pain and discomfort to the delight of his fans. Much like Sanders, Johnson never complained and simply went about his business. That’s why he remains one of the most revered players in franchise history to this day.
Calvin Johnson’s Chance of Cracking Hall of Fame
While Johnson never won the Super Bowl or won a playoff game in his tenure with the Lions, there is no question that he is one of the best wideouts to ever strap on the pads. In this class, Johnson will be up against names such as Torry Holt, Reggie Wayne, Hines Ward and Steve Tasker at wideout. Obviously, others on that list are more accomplished in terms of team hardware and success, but Johnson might be the most explosive playmaker of the bunch and his highlight reel is very hard to ignore.
Many aren’t sure whether Johnson will get enough support to make it in right away, and the debate has raged as it relates to if he’s a Hall of Famer. The question for the committee will be how much individual statistics and downright superhuman play matter in this case. If the group is looking at Johnson’s stats as well as the impact he made on the game while playing, there’s no question he can be Detroit’s next Hall of Famer quickly.
READ NEXT: Barry Sanders Shuts Down Lions Themed Beer