Former Lions WR Calvin Johnson feels receiving record is bound to fall

USA Today

Many Detroit Lions fans consider themselves fortunate to have witnessed the supreme talents of players like Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson, both of whom are frequently included in discussions as among the greatest to have ever played in their respective positions.

In 1997, Sanders came remarkably close to shattering the single-season rushing record, falling just 52 yards short of Eric Dickerson’s mark of 2,105 yards. Conversely, Johnson made history by breaking the single-season receiving record, becoming a symbol of excellence, showcasing unparalleled skill, athleticism, and dominance on the field.

Johnson’s record-setting performance, totaling 1,964 yards during the 2012 season, is widely acknowledged as one of the most impressive achievements in NFL history. His blend of size, speed, and sheer talent made him a daunting challenge for opposing defenses, propelling him to legendary status among football enthusiasts. For years, it appeared that Johnson’s record would remain unassailable until Cooper Kupp came within 17 yards of breaking it in 2021, even with the added advantage of an extra game compared to Johnson’s 16-game season.

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Given the NFL’s increasing emphasis on aerial attacks, Johnson himself acknowledges that it’s only a matter of time before his receiving record is surpassed. As he told Dave Birkett of the Free Presstold Dave Birkett of the Free Press,

“They want more offense, man, so at some point. You got to be healthy. You got to play really a full 17 now. … That’s the key. You got to be healthy. If you can play 17, guys have put up numbers, you’re going to put up numbers. That 17, you get that extra game to put another 150 or 200 (yards).”

After Kupp’s remarkable 2021 season, the receiving record has been within striking distance, with Justin Jefferson totaling 1,809 yards in 2022 and Tyreek Hill amassing 1,799 yards in 16 games during 2023.

With the expanded 17-game schedule, receivers now need to average approximately 116 yards per game, a feat that seems achievable in today’s pass-heavy league. However, as Johnson pointed out, maintaining good health is crucial. If players like Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, or CeeDee Lamb catch fire and avoid injuries, it’s not unreasonable to expect the record to be broken sooner than anticipated.

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