Hall of Fame running back and former Detroit Lions star Barry Sanders discussed the potential of wide receiver Calvin Johnson stepping away from the game early on Saturday, telling the Detroit News that his retirement would be devastating.
Sanders retired at the height of his career in 1999, decided to call it quits at the age of 31 and coming off a 1,431-yard season. Despite being in a situation very similar to Johnson, Sanders said that he was shocked by the news.
“I feel like I’m stunned a little bit like most people,”Sanders said. “I feel like around June, we’ll give him until June or so, and then we should start knocking on his door.”
Johnson, 30, has said that the toll playing football has taken on his body was the catalyst for the decision.
There is also a feeling that playing for a perennial losing franchise in Detroit made the decision to step away easier for Johnson. The Lions have only made the playoffs twice since drafting Johnson in 2007.
Sanders is hoping that the Lions will give Johnson plenty of time to reconsider retirement, saying that the six-time Pro Bowler is irreplaceable.
“It would certainly be difficult,” Sanders said. “He’s given a lot to our organization and our team and such a great player and one of those guys you just love having in your organization. Hey, it would be devastating, no question about it.”