Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson said that he was “somewhat shocked” that the news his ex-teammate Calvin Johnson was planning to retire became public, but that he can see why Johnson made the decision, according to USA Today.
Burleson said that the energy and passion with which Johnson plays the game has likely just worn the six-time Pro Bowler down.
“Physically, he gives so much to the sport,” Burleson told USA Today. “Emotionally, when you’ve given so much ... it could be fatigue, on and off the field.”
Burleson, who played four seasons with Johnson, said that he recently spoke to his former teammate, but did not ask him why he plans to retire.
“The player, the friend in me, recognizes how much work he’s put into this game,” Burleson said. “But then the fan in me wants to see him play forever. I’ve seen it first-hand. Him removed from the game is a huge loss. But at the same time, it’s difficult to keep carrying a team on your back, year after year, when your body is beat up and it takes more and more time to recover.”
Johnson, 30, was taken with the No. 2 pick in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Lions. He is the team’s all-time leader in receptions (731) and receiving yards (11,619).