Calvin Johnson is one of those historically good athletes who will need to spend the next five years of his life assuring those around him that he won't return to professional football.
Cue his most recent interview with ESPN.com:
"I'm not coming back, man," Johnson said. "Look, man. I got stuff that's going to hurt for the rest of my life. I got a finger that's literally bone-on-bone. This bad boy, it gets smaller. The more and more I do, it grinds bone-on-bone.
"Literally from last year, I went this year to get another X-ray and this is after I retired, I knew it was messed up but I didn't know to what degree because it was hurt."
In the piece, Johnson points to an ankle injury and a nerve issue in his shoulder as well.
He seems completely relieved in retirement, but told ESPN that he misses the camaraderie -- a familiar refrain for recently retired football players. The locker-room bond is often the most difficult aspect of the NFL to replicate in civilian life. He did not seem bothered by the fact that Detroit is making a playoff push without him, and that Matthew Stafford might be playing some of his best football yet. The ability to relax and watch a game on Sunday trumps all.
"Oh man, to watch football now, I've been looking forward to sitting back and watching football ever since I stepped into the league. You lose that," Johnson said. "When I was in college, I used to love to watch football on Sundays. And for nine (years), almost a decade I was away from that.
"To be able to sit back and enjoy the game, sit back and watch guys that you know played and you might have worked with it or you personally know, it's cool, it's awesome to sit back and say I know that guy because you're more of a fan of that game and that person. But I've only been able to watch the last three or four games."
While we all miss Megatron, it's nice to see a player going out on his own terms happily. Johnson was in the rare position of being able to spend his career with one franchise before bowing out. Nine years, six Pro Bowls and 83 touchdowns later, he still looks like he could suit up. Just don't get your hopes up.