Recently Retired Receiver Calvin Johnson Discusses Pain Killers, Concussions and Team Doctors

Calvin Johnson is speaking out about the toll that football has taken on his body and the ways that teams manage to keep banged-up players on the field.

Calvin Johnson shocked the football world when he announced that he was retiring after just 9 years in the league at the relatively young age of 30. The man known as Megatron has said that, unlike the giant metal robot that is his namesake, his body was breaking down and it was going to be too hard to keep playing.

But his revelations didn't stop there. Johnson recently spoke with Michael Smith of ESPN to discuss not only his decision, but also the culture in the NFL of playing hurt. Johnson describes that during the first half of his playing career, team doctors and trainers would give out painkillers "like candy," and that they were "readily available." He says that he didn't want to have to be taking medication every day in order to get through a season, and that it factored highly into his decision to hang up his cleats.

Johnson also discussed the concerns that many former—and even current—NFL players have about concussions. "It's simple to get a concussion, you know? I don't know how many I've had over my career, but I've definitely had my fair share," said Johnson. He went on to say that concussions probably happen as often as every third play considering all the different hits that occur between players, or between a player and the ground.

Johnson also dropped some minor criticisms on team doctors. Though he prefaced his statement by expressing his love for them and that they're good people, he also pointed out that "they work for the team, you know. They're trying to do whatever they can to get you back on the field and make your team look good."

All in all, this fills in some more details of the already not-so-pretty picture of the NFL and how it treats player safety concerns.

Johnson is second on the all-time receiving yards per game list and made six Pro Bowls in his nine seasons. He also led the NFL in receiving twice and set the single-season record in 2012 with 1,964 yards.


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