Posts Tagged ‘Calvin Johnson’

Calvin Johnson is simply not human

Calvin Johnson is simply not human

Not sure I can adequately put into words the effort that Calvin Johnson the Detroit Lions wide receiver has put into the 2012 season.

First though I have to stand up and take it like a man as I predicted the Motown Blue to make it all the way to the Super Bowl, on the back of Matthew Stafford, Calvin and a small series of miracles.

I wasn’t drinking or smoking the herb when I made this failed prophesy. I have witnessed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints win a Super Bowl, as well as the Arizona Cardinals be just one play from winning their own Vince Lombardi Trophy, so the Lions making it wasn’t exactly the fairy story of all fairy stories.

What transpired this season was a pretty abysmal failure by the Lions defense to stop anything or anyone from rushing, passing and scoring.

With one game left the Lions are a pitiful 4-11 with a league leading 7 game losing streak. After making the playoffs in 2011 I thought the days of a top 5 draft pick were all over for the boys in blue – what did I know.

The only redeeming feature in such a shameful season has been the NFL’s single greatest receiving season (by yards) by the quite literally unstoppable force they call Megatron  – the man so dangerous they named him after a giant robot baddie.

Calving Johnson is no baddie though, he is one of the good guys, a player who does not shoot his mouth off or taunt opponents, he simply torches them silently with his giant eagle wingspan, panhandle sized fingers and arms and legs that look like they come from a heroic plastic action figure and not a mortal human being.

I stayed up until 1.30am last Saturday night to be able to record live onto my DVD recorder the Lions v Falcons on the BBC’s interactive service, because the NFL, NFLUK and BBC are that stupid they have not managed to work out a deal to actually broadcast the games on a recordable Sky channel.

Whilst it annoyed the hell out of me to wait up so late, I did indeed, somewhat blurry eyed, watch the game about six hours later and witnessed Calvin Johnson simply shred the Falcons single-handed, with a stupendous 11 catches for 225 yards.

This game would be special for any NFL wide-out, but for Johnson he not only had his 8th consecutive 100+ yard game (setting an NFL record) and his 11th 100+ yard game (tied an NFL record) he then went onto to break the all time NFL receiving yardage record with his tenth grab.

What makes this feat even more astounding is that he still has a whole sixty minutes of football on Sunday to obliterate the record that was previously held by Jerry Rice.

Johnson has 1892 yards in 15 games and can reach the ridiculous mark of a 2000 yard season with just an everyday 108 yards at home in Detroit against a fading Chicago Bears team who have lost three out of their last four games.

Everyone who loves the NFL and wallows like a happy pig in the mud of statistics will be hoping Calvin reaches 2000 yards.

Madden curse – what a load of old cobblers !!!

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It’s a long and somewhat depressing off-season. Six months of guessing, planning, bragging, but above all not a single minute of regular season NFL action that means a jot.

So what is there to do in the wasteland between March and September?

Well there is baseball and even basketball, but despite almost 20 years of trying I cannot emotionally attach myself to the likes of the Denver Nuggets or the New York Yankees.

As a six year old to relieve boredom I recall my father buying me a sticker album, Panini Football 1980. To my non-European readers I refer to the round ball variety of football.

It was there that I remember the initial joy of opening packets of stickers (which I recall cost 5 pence a packet) to see if I could pull out a shiny silver badge or a famous player such as Liverpool star Kenny Dalglish or my childhood football hero Viv Anderson (a defender for Nottingham Forest and the first African Caribbean player to play for England).

Growing up in a small town in Surrey (a county below London on a map) I did not live near to a major football team so I chose the team to support based on the team sticker that had the most trophies by the players feet.

Back in 1980 Nottingham Forest were the best team in England and Europe under the genius that was Brian Clough, so I said to myself that would be my team. Little did I know that almost 30 years later I and most other Nottingham Forest fans would still be harking back to those glory days, with little to show for it in terms of trophies earned in the past three decades.

So I have football stickers to blame for my love of Nottingham Forest starting in 1980, and 29 years later I still share the same childlike excitement for opening packets of cards to see if I can pull a rare card or a limited edition one.

It is interesting in England that children in 2009 will potentially commence their love for collecting stickers the same way I did all those years ago, just like American children will open their first pack of NFL trading cards and share the passion for collecting small pieces of card.

Somebody somwhere was happy when they opened a pack and got this Matt Ryan card - on sale for $500 on EBay today

Somebody somwhere was happy when they opened a pack and got this Matt Ryan card - on sale for $500 on EBay today

Growing up in the 1980s I became obsessed with all things NFL and I recall that in 1987 Topps released a set of NFL cards. They were smaller than the set issued in the United States in both physical size and collection size.

I used to save up money given to me to get the bus to school to buy these cards and I remember sending off for the small collection box to keep my collection safe.

I would read all the stats on the back of each card and flick through the collection in boring lessons such as Music or Religious Education.

My music teacher Mrs Nye in fact confiscated my collection for a whole term (semester) as I was paying more attention to them than I was to playing an electric keyboard.

I did get them back the very first day of the next term and vowed to never bring them back to school. I can proudly say that I still have that collection, featuring the likes of Joe Montana, Dan Fouts and Dan Marino.

Where my interest began - a 1987 Topps Dan Marino card

Where my interest began - a 1987 Topps Dan Marino card

From then for about the next 15 years that was the only interaction I had with NFL trading cards, until one day at work in 2002 I was talking to a rather beefy looking businessman about the NFL.

He shared my love for American football and told me that he had a signed Walter Payton shirt hanging up in his office that he won on an Internet auction site called EBay.

After he told me how much he payed I quickly gave up on the idea of collecting full size NFL players shirts.

He must have seen that I was not exactly wealthy and suggested that I bid for an NFL trading card which is signed or has a small piece cut from an NFL players shirt.

I was very excited to even think I could own a small (very small in fact) piece of shirt worn by an NFL athlete in a real NFL game.

He told me that rookie players are the ones worth the most money so I bid for a card featuring the 2001 Heisman Tropy winner Eric Crouch and a small piece of a brown leather football that he had held.

I won the auction, and from then on I have spent time over the last 6 years collecting various cards on Ebay, as well as purchasing packets (an even on one occasion a full box) of NFL trading cards when visiting the USA.

I have not made any bids in 2009 but I get the feeling my wife would kill me if she saw a return of the small brown bubble envelopes dropping through our letterbox with remarkable regularity.

I am still waiting for the day that I pull an amazing cad from a pack I have purchased, as opposed to bidding for the card I know I have a chance of winning on EBay.

Cards I have pulled include; one with a piece of ball used by the Dolphins Ricky Williams in 2003 v the Buffalo Bills; one with a piece of the shirt held up by Calvin Johnson when he was drafted by the Detroit Lions and an autograph of former Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller.

I have emailed all the USA based card companies in the past and they have been kind enough to send me free cards and even card buying guides.

It’s a fun hobby for sure, provided you do not become obsessed, and providing you have the spare cash to indulge.

Above all it’s something to do during the tedium of the off-season, and what with the 2009 NFL Rookie Draft just weeks away, my advice would be to snap up any Rookie cards when they come up on EBay.

You could get a signed rookie card for a quarterback drafted in the sixth round for a very reasonable price! And we all know which three time Superbowl winning quarterback was a 6th round pick don’t we!

So does anyone else admit to collecting NFL trading cards? And if yes what was your best ever pull?

Nothing like a good old fashioned optimist !

Nothing like a good old fashioned optimist !

For the New England Patriots to go 16-0 in the 2007 regular season is a feat that is highly unlikely to be replicated for potentially another 25 years.

Equally if the Detroit Lions falter in chilly climate of Lambeau Field on Sunday and become the first team in the 16 game era to not to win a single game they to will become the benchmark for incompetence for the next quarter of a century.

There have been a number of truly awful teams in the 16 game era who have managed just one lone victory.

Most recently the 1-15 Miami Dolphins, in 2007, who had to rely on a long Greg Camarillo touchdown to keep them from hoisting the Crown of Crap onto their heads (before fumbling it and failing to recover it).

The top of the 16 game season flops also include the following

  • 1990 England Patriots (1-15) Led by Steve Grogan QB on their only win 16-14 v Colts 
  • 1991 Indianapolis Colts (1-15) Led by Jeff George QB on their only win 28-27 v Jets
  • 1980 New Orleans Saints (1-15) Led by Archie ‘dad of two Superbowl winning sons’ Manning QB on their only win 21-20 v Jets
  • 2001 Carolina Panthers (1-15) Led by Chris Weinke QB, this Panthers team actually tied the Lions with 15 consecutive losses, but bizarrely they won their first game of the year 24-13 v Vikings
  • 1996 New York Jets (1-15) led by Frank Reich QB on their only win 31-21 v Cardinals
  • 1989 Dallas Cowboys (1-15) led by Steve Walsh QB on their only win 13-3 v Redskins
  • 2000 San Diego Chargers (1-15) led by Ryan Leaf on their only win 17-16 v Chiefs

Already the 2008 Detroit Lions are in the Hall of Shame with 15 losses, now they just have to do what they do best and concede about 35 points whist Kevin Smith runs his heart out and Calvin Johnson gains about 100 yards on 6 catches.

I personally think that any team that uses 5 quarterbacks (John Kitna, Daunte Culpepper, Drew Stanton, Drew Henson and Dan Orlovsky) and still cannot muster one win deserves to become the champion of chumps.

We all know it is wrong to watch a train wreck, a motorway pile-up or even a player who is injured and lying motionless on the ground, but we can’t look away.

We look at the mangled metal, we stare at the broken glass on the road and the smoke billowing into the night sky and we squeam and then pray for an injured player lying prostrate on the ground to show a sign of movement.

This 2008 Detroit Lions team is a proverbial player who has been hit harder than whoever got in the way of Lorenzo Neal when he sprung Leron McClain free for that 82 yard touchdown for the Ravens against the Cowboys (week 16 2008).

Laying on the floor with just one ounce of of energy and a spoonful of willpower that will allow this franchise to wipe away the blood gripping out of their nose, the Lions will push their palms onto the snowy Green Bay floor and hoist themselves up for one last battle.

Can they beat Green Bay? Nope

Will they put up a fight? Yes for sure

Everyone loves an underdog, especially in England, but the Lions are no underdog, they are so far under they should change their name to the Detroit Moles.

Just admit it (as long as you are not a Lions fan) watching a team go 0-16 has a morbid kind of curiosity to it.

Merry Christmas to all of you – along with all the Lions fans worldwide.

As it is the time of giving I have a couple of free suggestions for the Lions

1) Change kit – get a combination of black and electric blue and then change that weird Lion outline to something with more teeth – literally – get a roaring lion head

2) Remember that you DO NOT have to draft a WR in the first round of EVERY draft.

3) Make sure Santa Claus gets your list this year – Fed Ex all 612 pages before its too late.