Matthew Stafford, Lions brass react to Calvin Johnson’s retirement


Matthew Stafford has thrown 163 touchdowns in his seven seasons as the Detroit Lions quarterback and Calvin Johnson has caught more than a third of them. In a statement released Tuesday night, Stafford bid farewell to his top target.

“Calvin Johnson will be missed by fans everywhere for his heroic efforts on Sundays, there is no question about that.

“My teammates and I will miss him for those same efforts within the walls of our practice facility and the class he showed in both arenas.

“I will always remember when he broke Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record and all of the big plays he made, thinking, ‘Did he really just come down with that one?’

“It was such an honor to play the game with one of the best of all time. I will cherish the lessons I learned from him and the friendship we have forged over the past seven years.

“He is truly one of a kind in his humility and grace both on and off the field.

“We have all learned from Calvin with how he treated his family, his work and his friends.

“I am excited to see what the rest of his life brings and I know he will be successful in any endeavor he puts his mind and heart in to.

“Thanks for all the memories, C!

“Love ya, man.”

Several others from the Lions organization released statements, including owner Martha Firestone Ford, coach Jim Caldwell and general manager Bob Quinn.

“On behalf on my entire family I want to thank Calvin for being not only a great player for the Lions, but for also being the absolute best representative our team, franchise and community could ever ask for. He was the epitome of dignity, class, humility and excellence. Calvin was exemplary on and off the field and will always be a part of our family and our team. I wish Calvin the very best in all his future endeavors, especially he and Brittney’s upcoming wedding, and I am confident Calvin will be just as successful in the next chapter of his life as he was playing for the Lions.”

“I’ve had the good fortune during my career to coach and be around some of the greatest players to ever play this game. And although I’ve only been with Calvin for two years, I can tell you that not only is he as good as any player I’ve ever seen, but I am convinced that God has not put a finer person on this earth than Calvin Johnson.

“He truly is one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met and I have as much respect for him as anyone I know. Calvin’s character, integrity, selflessness and humility are unmatched. His exemplary work ethic and approach to the game of football made everyone around him better.

“And while we will undoubtedly miss Calvin on the field, I am at peace with his decision knowing he arrived at it with a lot of thought, consultation and prayer.”

“For the past nine seasons I knew Calvin like the rest of the NFL – as one of the most dominant players of his generation. Not only was he a great player, but he also set a standard of professionalism that everyone in the NFL respected and greatly appreciated. Over the past couple months I was fortunate to get to know him as a person and became even more impressed. While we all are saddened that his playing career is ending, we should cherish what he did on the football field, knowing he was a generational talent that rarely comes along.

“A harsh reality of our business is that great players like Calvin Johnson do retire and we all understand that no one player could ever replace Calvin. But rather than dwell on that reality, we should, instead, truly appreciate what a remarkable talent we have had the privilege of watching.”

“Prior to assuming my current role with the team, like most Lions fans, I was a huge Calvin Johnson fan. The past few months have afforded me the privilege and honor to get to know Calvin in a much different way and I can confirm what those close to him have said many times— as great a player as Calvin is, he is a better person. I sincerely appreciate his professionalism in dealing with what undoubtedly was one of the most important decisions he’ll ever make. Our dealings over the past few months were consistently professional and respectful and we thank him for that. We also appreciate that he made his decision prior to the start of the new League year, the timing of which obviously helps us in our planning and approach to free agency and the draft.”