I am not trying to rub salt in Detroit Lions fans wounds. I grew up in Saskatoon and watched a lot of Detroit cable. I was there for the Barry Sanders and Wayne Fontes era. It just happened to have Scott Mitchell as their QB…
In watching Megatron’s retirement talk, a couple of things came across my mind. One of them was why don’t teams pay a player like Calvin Johnson to take a year off at this point of their careers and get totally healthy.
Give him a couple of months off and then pay him to come back and work out, get back in shape and come back healthy for the year ahead. Before you discount this as crazy, consider that one of the reasons why Marcus Allen had a such a long run in Los Angeles and Kansas City is that he was rarely used in his late 20s and early 30s because of the insanity of Al Davis and that feud that only Davis really knew what he was mad about. It had to suck for Allen to go through but it prolonged his career.
The (pretty good) O.J. Anderson had a career revival in New York for the Giants on their 1991 Super Bowl team because in part he was barely used for years after the St. Louis Cardinals ground him to pieces as their feature back. His body recovered and was great in that three yards and a cloud of dust attack that New York had.
Look at Kurt Warner. It took him a couple of years for his body to heal after Mike Martz’s attack left him beaten and bruised in St. Louis. He wasn’t a great, then bad, and then great QB again. He was always great, his body just needed time to heal after the pounding his took as part of the Greatest Show on Turf.
Part me wonders if the Lions paid Johnson a reduced salary to rest up and get healthy, if he wouldn’t come back. Being in pain every day takes a toll on you both physically and mentally. Not all players would come back after a break away but other stars would be able to come back and be better than they were before. It wouldn’t be something you would do for everyone but there are select “generational talents” that giving a break too would pay off for a franchise and the game.