97.1’s Tom Millikan: Calvin Johnson is Detroit’s most overrated star athlete [I strongly disagree]

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NOTE: The views expressed in this EDITORIAL do not necessarily reflect the views of Detroit Sports Nation or a majority of its writers and should not be misconstrued as such. The views contained within are the views of the author and the author alone.

As I was browsing my Twitter feed this morning, there was definitely not a shortage of Calvin Johnson articles going around the internet. Some were piggybacking on the not so new “news” that Johnson has told players and coaches in the Lions organization he is considering retirement while others were putting out editorials essentially remembering his career in Detroit. But as I continued to scroll, I came across something that caught my eye and struck a nerve. It was an editorial tweeted out by 97.1 the Ticket titled, “Cosmetic Calvin: Detroit’s Most Overrated Star Athlete” written by Tom Millikan.

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First of all, let’s be absolutely clear about something before moving forward with this. 1) I have absolutely nothing personal against 97.1 or Tom Millikan, in fact, this is the first time I have ever heard of him. 2) Every single person is entitled to their own opinion, including Mr. Millikan.

Now that we have that out of the way………



Millikan started off his piece by laying into someone who called into 97.1 this morning.

A caller this morning suggested that Calvin Johnson is the greatest wide receiver of all time. That’s funny. What a slap in the face to Jerry Rice! Comments like these are reckless and show just how jaded home town fans can be.

A “slap in the face” to Rice? Really, Tom? Well, rather than speaking for the great Jerry Rice, let’s see what Rice himself had to say about Johnson roughly three years ago.

“Without a doubt, he’s the best receiver in the league right now,” Rice said. “I think this guy is going to be around a long time. He has a good work ethic, a good head on his shoulders, and he’s going to try to bring it every year.”

Now, to be fair, Rice did not say that Johnson is better than him, but as I read his comment, I don’t think he would consider somebody calling the Lions receiver the “greatest of all-time” a “slap in the face.”

Millikan then went on to compare Johnson against some of the all-time greats in Detroit sports history.

Calvin can’t sniff the jock of Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Barry Sanders, Isiah Thomas, Miguel Cabrera or Justin Verlander. That’s six athletes just in the last 30 years that dwarf what Megatron has done.

I think I’m starting to see what’s going on here. Either A) Millikan has something personal against Johnson or B) He knew he would get a lot of “clicks” for writing such a controversial editorial (I fell for it!)

“Calvin can’t sniff the jock” of those superstar athletes? Kind of harsh, don’t you think?

I get it. Calvin has never won a championship at the professional level, but neither did Sanders, Cabrera, or Verlander during their time in Detroit. Would Johnson rank ahead of those players on a greatest Detroit athletes list? Probably not, but to say he “can’t sniff the jock” of those players is ignorant.

Millikan continued:

I strongly believe Calvin Johnson is the most cosmetic Detroit athlete ever. He had arguably the rawest talent in the history of this town. But I think he wasted that talent because he never adopted the winning intangibles that make the real greats GREAT!

Tom, my friend, my buddy, my pal, mi amigo, this is just getting crazy now. Calvin Johnson never “adopted the winning intangibles” to be great? News flash Mr. Millikan: Football is the ultimate team sport and Johnson is just one player on the team. Regardless of how good he is, he can not win on his own. What did Barry Sanders win? He was pretty good, don’t you think? Name one player in the history of the NFL that was won a championship on his own. Let me help you, there are none!

What Millikan wrote next blows my mind.

His defenders will say “That’s just not who he is” or “You can’t force people to be who they aren’t.” I disagree. Winning takes time. It takes hard work. It takes dirty work. It takes accountability. It takes saying the hard things. It takes leadership. I can’t find any evidence of Calvin Johnson doing any of this. Instead what I can find is a bunch of stats and a guy who made so much money he could call it quits early.

Hold the phones! Did Calvin Johnson’s work ethic just come into question? Since I am not at practice with the Lions, let’s see what a couple of his teammates and coaches had to say about this.

Here is what quarterback Dan Orlovsky had to say prior to this past season.

“Very rarely,” Orlovsky said, “are you going to find a 30-year-old who’s accomplished as much as he has accomplished, and let’s be honest, made as much as he’s made, and set his future and family’s future and his kids’ future up as much as he has, yet work like he has done nothing.

“You meet a lot of people who act like they’ve done everything and are full of themselves and accomplished nothing. Calvin’s the opposite, and I think that’s his most endearing quality.”

Does that sound like Johnson is afraid to work hard? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Here is what Shawn Jefferson, the Lions wide receivers coach in 2012, had to say about Johnson and his work ethic.

“Everything is full speed with him,” Jefferson says. “He’s scared to go any other speed. Sometimes I have to pull him out of practice to slow him down. It definitely worries me.”

Not willing to do the dirty work, huh? The guy is full speed almost all of the time!

How about what tight end Brandon Pettigrew had to say about Johnson’s work ethic prior to the 2012 season.

“You can’t help but notice his work ethic,” says Pettigrew. “He’s always putting in time. It’s always what I’ve seen from him. He’s here as much as anyone. People feed off that.”

That sure sounds like a leader to me, Mr. Millikan, how about you?

You see, Tom, just because Calvin Johnson is not yelling at his teammates like Dez Bryant, or openly complaining to officials like Tom Brady, or filming his offseason workouts for the world to see like Jerry Rice, it does not mean he is not a leader or that he does not have a good work ethic, or that he is… dare I say it… “overrated.”

Calvin Johnson has been a blessing to the Detroit Lions and to their fans. If you don’t like him, that’s fine. But please do not call one of the greatest receivers in NFL history, “overrated.”

It’s just not a good look.







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Posted by Don Drysdale
I am a fan of all Detroit sports and LOVE to write about them!