Sanders: Megatron retirement would be 'devastating'

The last all-time great to walk away from the Detroit Lions is surprised another is possibly following his footsteps.

Barry Sanders said Calvin Johnson retiring would be a "big blow."

"I'm just shocked, man," Sanders reporters Saturday at NFL Honors, via the Detroit Free Press. "Just shocked. And I feel like a lot of the other Lions fans; we'll start knocking on his door around June, see if we can give him a nice peaceful off-season. We know he'll make the right decision, but if he's going to retire it'll definitely be a big blow."

(Smash cut to Lions fans fainting at the irony.)

Sanders wouldn't compare his own decision to walk away at 31 in July 1999 after 10 pro years, to Megatron contemplating retirement after nine seasons. The Hall of Fame running back acknowledged that watching two star players retire with gas left in the tank would be gut-wrenching for Lions fans.

"It would certainly be difficult," he said. "He's given a lot to this organization and the team and he's such a great player and one of those guys you just love having in the organization. It would be devastating, no question about it."

Sanders said he's happy with his decision to retire early, noting that he's mostly healthy and, at 47, doesn't yet have any lingering pain from his playing days.

Johnson turns 31 in September and has played through ankle, knee and finger injuries in recent years. The injuries are the main reason Megatron could walk away despite completing his sixth straight 1,000-plus yard season.

While the Lions' brass has been mum about recruiting Johnson to return, Sanders was adamant he'd like to see the receiver continue his career.

"He's a thoughtful guy," Sanders said. "And I know he'll do what's best. But we'd love to have him back for a few more years."

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