August 20, 2013 at 9:51 am

Terry Foster

Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, not Miguel Cabrera, is most valuable star in Detroit

Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson set an NFL record with 1,964 receiving yards last season. (Daniel Mears /The Detroit News)

The debate rages on.

Is slugger Miguel Cabrera the best Tigers hitter in history? Yes.

Is he the most valuable sports star in Detroit history? Maybe.


As of right now, that title lies a short throw from Comerica Park — at Ford Field.

His name: Calvin Johnson, Lions wide receiver.

The question surely is why Johnson and why not Cabrera.

Simply, Johnson can deliver something Cabrera can’t: A Super Bowl, the only title missing among the Big Four.

The Tigers have won the World Series. Heck, the Tigers, with Cabrera in charge, have been to the World Series.

The Lions have not reached the Super Bowl, and that is why Johnson is more important.

“We were always told that if you ever win a Super Bowl that you would own the state of Michigan,” former Lions left tackle Lomas Brown said. “This is a blue-collar town and they relate to football. To me Calvin is always going to be a notch ahead of Miggy because of that.”

Cabrera has help

Last season, Johnson surpassed Jerry Rice’s season receiving yards record, finishing with 1,964 yards. He already has nine NFL records and 11 Lions receiving records — and still has a long and productive career ahead.

The only thing that can hold Johnson back is the Lions. If the team wins playoff games and titles, his profile will increase.

But this debate is far from over.

While Tigers legend Willie Horton calls Cabrera a machine, he respects both players.

“Man that’s a tough one,” Horton said. “You are talking about flipping a coin. I think the difference is Cabrera has a great supporting cast around him, especially in Prince Fielder. ... I remember teams would just try to shut down Calvin and not worry about the other guys. Miggy has so many ball players around him and if they keep them around this young man is really going to break some records.”

Chasing the Big Three

Either way, Detroit is lucky to have both players.

And why can’t they share the spotlight? It’s been done before.

Remember when Steve Yzerman, Isiah Thomas and Barry Sanders played at the same time? All three are on their respective Hall of Fames.

Yzerman and Thomas, however, led their teams to titles. And while Sanders is the most exciting player in history, titles are a plus.

Cabrera and Johnson need to do the same before they can be mentioned with those three legends.

But it’s Johnson who will rise above everyone if he can bring Detroit that elusive Super Bowl title.

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