The 2016 NFL season is shaping up to be a very interesting one for the Detroit Lions. Following a 7-9 campaign in 2015, the team does not seem to be getting too much respect from the national media. One of the main reasons for concern is the fact that the Lions will be without their top receiver from a year ago, Calvin Johnson.
Johnson, of course, announced in early March that he was retiring from football and since then the Lions have been scrambling to figure out how they will replace him.
On Wednesday, during the 4th annual Taste of the Lions, quarterback Matthew Stafford joined The Mitch Albom Show on WJR-AM and talked with Albom about when he actually knew that Johnson would retire following the season.
“I had some inklings and some conversations with him, and I knew him well enough to know the way he was acting, the way he was talking, that there was a pretty good chance, and that it might have been his last year, and it turned out it was.” Stafford said.
Albom also asked Stafford if he ever tried to talk Johnson out of retiring.
“No, you know, I didn’t.” Stafford said. “I think he knows where I stand on that and I think he knows I wanted him to be happy. I told him, ‘Hey man, if your happy, that’s awesome. Do it because you want to do it and don’t let anybody else influence you.’ I think he’s at peace with it. I talk to him regularly to see how he’s doing.”
This will be the first full season that Stafford will be without Johnson and it should be very interesting to see how he handles things. Calvin would draw a double team (or more) on just about every play during his seven years with Stafford, and that will no longer be the case. Depending on how the Lions offense adjusts to life without one of the best receivers in NFL history will dictate just how good the team is in 2016.