Former Detroit Lions All-Pro Calvin Johnson Discusses Retirement, Concussions and More with ESPN’s Michael Smith on New E:60

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Former Detroit Lions All-Pro Calvin Johnson Discusses Retirement, Concussions and More with ESPN’s Michael Smith on New E:60

E:60 Calvin Johnson Trailer

  • In-Depth Calvin Johnson Profile Debuts Thursday at 10 p.m. ET
  • Preview Airs Tonight on 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter

Former Detroit Lions All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who retired from the NFL in March seemingly at the top of his game, sat for a rare one-on-one interview with ESPN’s Michael Smith last week in Atlanta. During their conversation, Johnson discussed his decision to retire, concussions, how he often played through pain, and more. The interview will air on E:60 when ESPN’s primetime news-magazine kicks off its summer flight Thursday, July 7 (10 p.m. ET, ESPN).

SportsCenter will air a preview of the Johnson profile tonight on the 6 p.m. edition.

From the interview:

On dealing with concussions …

Johnson: It’s clear to see when you get a concussion. In football, it’s – concussions happen, if not on every play, then they happen like every other, every third play, you know. With all the helmet contact, guys hittin’ the ground, heads hittin’ ground. It’s simply when your brain touches your skull from the movement or the inertia, man. It’s simple to get a concussion, you know.  … I don’t know how many I’ve had over my career, you know, but I’ve definitely had my fair share.”

On playing through pain and taking medication …

Johnson: Just the ability to be able to perform at the way I’m used to performing. You know, to play with the pain, and to have to take medicine and stuff like that to play through it and stuff like that, I don’t wanna keep on playin’ like that.

“Medications I took for pain while I was playin’ were simply just to cease the pain … and so you could do your job more effectively. And, whether it be Toradol, Tylenol, T3s – you know, gettin’ cortisol shots, things like that. You know, those are the main things that I did, or that I took.”

On NFL player safety …

Johnson: “The team doctor … the team trainers, they work for the team. And I love ’em. They’re some good people. They want to see you do good. But at the same time, they work for the team. They’re tryin’ to do whatever they can to get you back on the field and make your team look good. So if it’s not gonna make the team look good, or if you’re not gonna be on the field, then they’re tryin’ to do whatever they can to make that happen.”

On whether he would have played longer if the Lions were a playoff team …

Johnson: If we would’ve been a contender, it would have been harder to let go.”

On some of the physical pain he continues to struggle with …

Johnson: When you wake up in the morning, you can’t walk. You know, you’re shufflin’ across the floor. … I gotta go through, like, a little routine when I wake up in the morning to get everything functioning and ready to go. But, the only thing is everything just goes back to gridlock so fast once I sit down, ’cause you know you go to work again.”

– 30 –


Bill Hofheimer

I oversee ESPN’s College Sports PR, while also working on ESPN soccer, Around the Horn, PTI and more. Previously oversaw communications for ESPN's Monday Night Football and NFL studio shows.
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