Burleson: Calvin Johnson focused on health, not money

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Nate Burleson spent four years playing with Calvin Johnson, and the pair grew close being in the same wide receiver meetings on a daily basis.

Now working for NFL Network, Burleson shared some insight on the possibility of Johnson retiring at age 30.

Nate Burleson and Calvin Johnson in 2012.

“If I could lean on something, it’s not about a power play, it’s not about coaching, it’s not about money,” Burleson said on NFL Total Access. “I can guarantee anybody at home, Calvin doesn’t care about the money. If he’s considering retiring, he’s concerned about his body and how much he can keep that up and play at a high level like he has been.”

Johnson has made more than $100 million playing for the Lions and several million more in endorsements, and Burleson thinks if he is considering retirement, it’s strictly due to health.

“Calvin doesn’t play these games,” Burleson said. “Calvin just suits up, he puts the city on his back, he puts the team on his back. When we’ve had our moments — quiet, away from the cameras — he said all he wants to do is give Detroit a championship. And if it’s going to cost him his body, then he’ll walk away from the game before he has to do that.”

Johnson has dealt with several injuries in recent years, including three broken fingers in 2012, a knee issue in 2013 and serious ankle sprains the past two years.

He released a statement Wednesday saying he was weighing his options for the future, and the Lions released one saying they support him taking time to think.

“We should take it as serious as we take Calvin’s play on the field,” Burleson said. “When Calvin talks, he doesn’t throw anything out there for fluff. He means every word that he says. And I reached out to him this morning as a friend; I took the analyst hat off and I said when you’ve got some time I want to talk about your future and understand what your mindset is right now.

“He said, ‘I’m hanging out with the family; I’m chilling.’ So, right now his mind is completely off the subject that everybody else’s mind is on. Because as a fan, as a former teammate, I don’t want to see Calvin gone from this game. It’s too soon. … But knowing Calvin, playing with Calvin, he’s banged up; he’s been banged up. People look at him and say he has an ankle, he has a knee — he’s had those things for the last five, six years. He’s just one of the toughest guys you know because he never talks about it. A true introvert, a true professional that never talks about his injuries.”