Dan Campbell Praises Calvin Johnson: ‘Never Seen Anybody Like Him’

Dan Campbell

Getty Dan Campbell during a press conference prior to training camp on July 28, 2021.

Calvin Johnson is taking his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Sunday, August 8, and it’s a moment that plenty of folks can say they saw coming all along.

Johnson was one of the most talented players in college for Georgia Tech and continued that dominance once he got to the NFL with the Detroit Lions as well. One player who saw that talent right off the bat was Dan Campbell. Before he was the coach of the Lions, Campbell was a teammate of Johnson’s in Detroit, and realized that the player was going to be special immediately.

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Speaking with the media on Thursday, August 5, Campbell talked about what made Johnson special and what set the man who earned the nickname ‘Megatron’ apart from his peers.


Detroit Lions Training Camp Availability: Aug. 5, 2021 | Dan CampbellWatch Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell meet the media before practice Aug. 5, 2021. Subscribe to the Lions YT Channel: bit.ly/2OABzdx More Lions NFL Action: bit.ly/2oxtfjX #DetroitLions #Lions #NFL Keep up-to-date on all things Lions: Visit detroitlions.com/ Follow: twitter.com/Lions Follow: instagram.com/detroitlionsnfl/ Like: facebook.com/DetroitLions2021-08-05T12:20:51Z

“You never truly know where somebody’s going to be ten years from that point. We all know that. But I know this, I had never seen anybody like him. Never been around anybody like him, that had the size, length, speed, ability to adjust to the football, flexibility and was hungry and just went to work. He had it all. He checked every box. It was unbelievable,” Campbell told the media. “This is the type of guy, if he called for the ball every play, you’d be like ‘I get it, I know why he is calling for the ball every play.’ I would be calling for the ball every play. He just was a team guy. It was great, man. If ever there was a dude who deserves to go in the Hall of Fame, it’s him. Those type of players. Those players to me, the production, it speaks for itself. All those guys, to be able to do what you’re doing and be good enough to go to the Hall of Fame, it’s well deserved. But there’s a special place in my heart for guys who are team guys who put in the work day in and day out and they have ultra-ability, which is what Calvin had. So I’m proud of that guy, I’m happy for him and I know Detroit’s proud of him too, and they should be.”

Johnson will enter the Hall of Fame shortly, and it’s clear that his former teammate is beyond thrilled to see a player he sees as deserving receive such a major honor.


Dan Campbell and Calvin Johnson’s Shared Years With Lions

Johnson and Campbell overlapped for a few seasons in Detroit early in the wideout’s career. Johnson arrived just as Campbell was making his way out. The 2006 season was Campbell’s most productive in Detroit, and the tight end put up 308 yards and 4 touchdowns while Johnson was still in college. Johnson’s first year with the team was 2007, and Campbell would only play in a pair of games with a single start and no statistics thanks to injury. In 2008, Campbell had 1 single reception for 21 yards. By comparison, Johnson was coming into his own putting up 1,331 yards and 12 touchdowns in his second full season with the team.

As a veteran player, it’s clear Campbell was very impressed with not only the production but the behind-the-scenes work ethic that Johnson showed. In his mind, this was what was able to help make Johnson great and set him on the Hall of Fame trail he quickly blazed in the league.


Campbell: ‘You Can’t Take Away’ What Johnson Means to Lions

The topic of what Johnson will or will not say about the Lions in his Hall of Fame speech has come up plenty in recent days, but Campbell had an interesting thought when he closed his media availability on Thursday. As the coach said, he believes the whole body of work and where it took place will never be forgotten by anyone.

“To be able to know that hey, that guy was a Detroit Lion, that will be there forever. You can’t take that away. Because that’s what he was, that’s what he is, and that’s the jersey that goes up in the Hall of Fame,” Campbell said.

Regardless of the feelings Johnson has about the team or where the sides are at in their current conflict, Campbell is right. The work Johnson did in Detroit will live on forever, and now, it will culminate in a special enshrinement in Canton, Ohio.

READ NEXT: Calvin Johnson Dishes About Lions’ ‘Bad Energy’

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