The Lions finally let go of Stafford and shipped him off to the Los Angeles Rams earlier this year. It provides the veteran an opportunity to lead a contender, something Detroit never was during his time with the organization.
Johnson never got such an opportunity. He spent his entire nine-year Hall-of-Fame career in Detroit, catching 731 passes for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns before he abruptly retired in 2016.
Before he retired, though, he approached the Lions’ front office about a possible trade. Detroit declined to move him elsewhere, and the rest is history. Johnson retired. Years later, the Lions traded Stafford after he made the same request Johnson did.
With all due respect, Detroit has been a black hole for superstar players. Calvin Johnson never escaped. Matthew Stafford did.
Stafford now heads to a Rams team that appears fully capable of winning the NFC West and contending for a Super Bowl.
Johnson, meanwhile, continues to be in an awkward relationship with the Lions. We don’t expect such a relationship to heal anytime soon.