Too soon, too soon...

Monday, February 01, 2016

Too soon, too soon...

...but I get it, why some of the legendary professional sports stars bail betimes from Detroit teams as the Lions' remarkable wide receiver Calvin Johnson seems almost certain to do this week.

Hockey Hall of Famer Marcelle Dionne was the #2 overall draft pick by the Detroit Red Wings in 1971, and after four sparkling seasons, demanded a trade out of what he called "Murder City" due to its increasingly out of control crime rate and annual leadership in homicides.

(Red Wings management accommodated the unhappy Drummondville, Centre-du-Québec native and sent him off to the Los Angeles Kings in 1975.)

Jump to 1999 when one of the two best National Football League running backs I ever saw, 30-year-old Barry Sanders, suddenly retired, one season shy of breaking Walter Peyton's NFL career rushing yardage record.

Sanders did it by faxing a statement to his hometown Wichita Eagle newspaper, and has always declined to amplify his reasoning.

There was never any showboat about Barry... he scored 109 career touchdowns for the Lions, often on spectacular waterbug long runs, and politely handed the ball to an official after crossing the goal line.

Sanders was the epitome of the Vince Lombardi directive:

"When you get to the endzone, act like you've been there before."

There were no emphatic spikes, no poses, no celebratory "Hey! Watch me now!" dances... Barry was a class act who let his legs and sense of balance speak.

This lifetime Lions fan always knew why he left the game when he did, and it also plays into why Calvin Johnson is leaving the game... the culture of losing in Detroit is especially disheartening.

My son, who pays more attention to the college football game than I do, told me I wasn't going to believe Johnson's talent when the Lions selected the Georgia Tech wide receiver second overall in the 2007 draft.

"They got this pick right for once!"

...Colin said astutely, and I've always given him props for that one.

It wasn't long before "Megatron" (I've always hated that nickname!) was making breath-taking catches and causing defensive coaches to wake up in the middle of the night screaming... he was the real thing!

And now he's taking his good health and hitting the road before his 31st birthday.



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