Ex-Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson a semifinalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
| Detroit Free Press

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Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson is one of four first-year eligible players who are semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021.

Johnson joins former Michigan football cornerback Charles Woodson, quarterback Peyton Manning and defensive end Jarred Allen in a 25-man group that will be whittled to 15 finalists before being presented to the Hall of Fame selection committee in February.

Johnson, who played all nine of his seasons for the Lions, set the NFL’s single-season receiving mark of 1,964 yards in 2012 and retired in 2016 as the organization’s all-time leader in receiving yards and receptions.

He was a three-time first-team All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowl selection who had seven 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his career.

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“He was just the best to do it, especially the deep ball,” former Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman told the Free Press this summer. “You would just throw it down there. I don’t think it was the quarterback, I think it was just whoever could throw a ball and you knew he was going to come down with it. That’s Calvin Johnson.”

Johnson could join Randy Moss (class of 2018) and Jerry Rice (class of 2010) as the only receivers this millennium who were selected to Canton in their first year on the ballot.

Woodson, a three-time first-team All-Pro and the 2009 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and Manning, a five-time NFL MVP, are considered locks for next year’s class, which will include up to five modern-era players.

Defensive backs John Lynch, Eric Allen, LeRoy Butler, Rodney Harrison, Darren Woodson and Ronde Barber; offensive linemen Willie Anderson, Tony Boselli and Alan Faneca; receivers Torry Holt, Hines Ward and Reggie Wayne; linebackers Zach Thomas, Patrick Willis, Cornelius Bennett, Sam Mills and Clay Matthews; defensive linemen Richard Seymour and Bryant Young; running back Fred Taylor; and special teams ace Steve Tasker also are modern-era semifinalists.

Selectors also will vote to enshrine Tom Flores, Bill Nunn and Drew Pearson in the coach, contributor and senior committee categories during Super Bowl LV weekend.

Dave Birkett is one of 48 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Contact him at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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