In an announcement that will surprise no one who watched him play, former Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson was announced as one of 130 nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2021 on Wednesday.
Johnson is one of 14 players in the first year of eligibility. That group also includes Hall of Fame locks Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson, a former Michigan Wolverine. The duo, along with Johnson, were featured as part of the announcement.
The 130-person list is scheduled to be trimmed to 25 in November and 15 in January before the Hall of Fame’s selection committee meets the day before the Super Bowl. During the all-day meeting, the list will be narrowed to 10, then five and finally a yes or no vote, with 80% approval required.
Despite stiff competition for the honor, Johnson has a strong case to be enshrined in his first year of eligibility. During his nine-year career with the Lions, he established himself as the most dominant receiver of his era, catching 731 passes for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns.
Johnson finished in the top 10 in receiving yards six times in nine seasons, twice leading the NFL. In 2012, he set the single-season record with 1,964 yards. For his efforts, he earned first-team All-Pro honors three times and was selected to six Pro Bowls.
Detractors will hold the length of Johnson’s career and team success against him. He retired at the age of 30, citing compounding injuries. And during his career, the Lions only made the playoffs twice, losing in the wild card round both times.
For what it’s worth, Johnson was excellent in the postseason, including a 211-yard, two-touchdown showing against New Orleans in 2011.
Unfortunately for the Lions, Johnson remains at odds with the franchise since his retirement, frustrated by the front office’s decision to reclaim a portion of his signing bonus.
“There’s no back and forth there,” Johnson said in August. “That’s fine with me. I’m handling my business, I’m sure they’re handling theirs.”