Calvin Johnson retired from the NFL in the 2016 offseason after playing in the league for nine years. This move was considered an accident at the time, because the 30-year-old Johnson was about to end a season. He received a total of 88 passes, passed 1,214 yards and 9 touchdowns.
But as Johnson explained in his speech to the Professional Football Hall of Fame on Sunday night, he withdrew because he was suffering from injuries in his first season as a professional player.
“In my first year in the NFL, I suffered a serious back injury,” Johnson said. “It was too bad at that moment [that] I can’t feel my legs anymore. I thought my career was about to end. “
Johnson was obviously able to continue the game, but in the process of becoming a superstar, injuries caused losses.
“What most people don’t know is the path to recovery from a back injury that year and the physical and mental pain I experienced during my professional career,” Johnson said. “But in the second year, despite the pain and back injury, I made up my mind that every time I stepped onto the football field, I would become the best and most dominant receiver in the NFL.”
Johnson can do this. He was selected to the Pro Bowl for six consecutive times in the 2010-15 season, and was selected as a first-team full-pro player for three consecutive times in the 2011-13 season. He led the NFL in receiving yards twice, including in the 2012 season, he set an NFL record with 1,964 receiving yards.
Despite his success, the pain eventually caught up with him.
“But no matter how much I control—as the legend here knows—the pain never disappears,” Johnson said. “The pain is very serious. I will try my best to control the pain before I can play. The pain started to affect my body and my quality of life, and it didn’t get better.”
Johnson added: “For a moment, I [knew] My time in this league-those days have been numbered. But I have no opinion on this, because I leave everything on the court and enjoy every moment. “
So Johnson decided to leave. After retiring, he and former teammate Rob Sims helped found Primitiv, a cannabis company. The company is studying the effects of marijuana on chronic pain.Johnson and Sims teamed up with Harvard in 2019 Researching medical marijuana as a possible treatment for CTE.
“Our vision is that we are trying to change the stigma surrounding marijuana,” Sims Tell ESPN“We don’t call it bud. We call it medicine.”
Johnson also aimed at shame in his Hall of Fame speech.
“There are so many people living in our world, suffering from pain, and I want to talk to you,” he said. “I want you to know that I saw you, you are very important, work hard, try your best to get through the difficulties, and never succumb to pain.”