Yesterday afternoon, Calvin “Megatron” Johnson participated in an interview with ESPN’s Michael Smith about why he retired early. Calvin Johnson is second all-time in all-purpose yards for wide receiver’s a lot of people were shocked last year when Johnson decided to retire.
Johnson retired early because his body was starting to breakdown. At 30 years old Johnson is the latest in a troubling trend of NFL players who retired young either due to injury, or to protect themselves. Johnson joins San Francisco 49ers Linebacker Patrick Willis, and others who have said they value their health over their football careers.
In his interview yesterday, he also talked about the attitude towards concussion by the NFL. Johnson said, “Concussions happen,” he said. “If not on every play, then they happen like every other, every third play, you know. With all the helmet contact, guys hitting the ground, heads hitting ground. It’s simply when your brain touches your skull from the movement or the inertia, man. It’s simple to get a concussion, you know. I don’t know how many I’ve had over my career, you know, but I’ve definitely had my fair share.” (ESPN interview 7-6-16)
Johnson started his career in the NFL during a time when concussions were not in the spotlight. NFL teams did everything they could to get players back on the field, because teams value the production of the players over their health. Johnson also talked about the pain killers he would be given in order to ensure that he could get back on the field as quickly as possible.
Johnson’s interview adds more smoke to a fire that has been growing for a long time. Once again concussions are back in the public spotlight, because a high profile player is talking about the NFL culture towards concussions, pain killers, and pain in general.
The NFL is the number one sport in America, they need to do more or risk more players retiring early because they value their after football life over their careers.