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Megatron: Lions' struggles factored into retirement

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Throughout his nine NFL seasons, Calvin Johnson was always a quiet character. The soft-spoken Megatron has been just as mum on his reasons for retiring from the gridiron at 30.

After the Detroit Lions announced in March that the six-time Pro Bowl receiver would indeed hang up his cleats, Johnson gave a glimpse into his decision process in a sit-down with ESPN's Michael Smith for "E:60," which aired Thursday night.

Stream the Amazon Original Series "All or Nothing: A Season with the Arizona Cardinals" on Prime Video.

Johnson gave several reasons for retiring, from current health, to future health worries, concussion concerns and mental fatigue. Megatron also noted that perhaps if Detroit had won more during his career, it would have been more difficult to walk away at 30.

"If we would have been a contender it would have been hard to let go," Johnson said.

The Lions were 54-90 during Megatron's nine seasons and lost their only two playoff appearances. Johnson lamented the inexplicable ways Detroit lost some of those contests (look no further than the "batted ball" loss to Seattle in 2015).

Despite saying it would have been harder to let go if the Lions were contenders, Johnson wouldn't delve into how much the downtrodden organization played into his decision.

"I don't know (how much the losing factored in), but what I can tell you, is that it's a big unknown because ... say you were winning, you win a Super Bowl and you know, you just never know how you'll feel," he said. "I'm wasting my time trying to think about what could happen, what would have been."

Perhaps if the Lions had put together their first back-to-back playoff appearances since 1994-1995, the decision would have been more difficult for Johnson, but the NFL's single season receiving yards record holder said he knew before 2015 he planned to walk away.

"It's funny, because there would be certain things," he said. "During the season I would be chilling with the boys in the cafeteria and watching something like that, and they talking about Kobe (Bryant). They were talking about how he was retiring, and I'm like '(expletive) I'm retiring too after this season'...But nobody pay no mind. They thought I was BSing."

Megatron said injury and health were the main reasons he decided to retire.

While he was never cited on the injury report with a concussion, Johnson said he "had his fair share" during his career. Hand injuries were also a major issue for the receiver.

"One, my job is to catch the ball," he said. "When catching the ball that kinda hurts, that's another flag."

Despite the speculation that Johnson could return after a year off and play with a contender, Megatron put those fan dreams to rest.

"There a lot of different things I could do, but football isn't one of them," he said.

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