Megatron's the man

Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson celebrates a touchdown against the Chiefs in Detroit, Mich.,...

Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson celebrates a touchdown against the Chiefs in Detroit, Mich., Sep. 18, 2011. (REBECCA COOK/Reuters)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:38 PM ET

ALLEN PARK, MICH. - Attention, Cris Carter and Rob Ryan.

We have the perfect Christmas gift for both of you.

With star Detroit Lions wideout Calvin Johnson gracing the cover of this week’s edition of Sports Illustrated, we’re willing to get a pair of them nicely framed and leave them under your respective trees, complete with a pretty bow and a serving of humble pie.

Enjoy.

Think about it. How humiliated must both Carter and Ryan feel right now after they both slagged the Lions standout a week ago?

Carter was the first to put his foot in his mouth, claiming that Johnson was not among the elite receivers in the National Football League.

Ryan, the defensive co-ordinator of the Cowboys, followed that up by saying that Johnson ranked behind Dallas receivers Miles Austin and Dez Bryant.

Yet, when queried about those comments, Johnson took the high road, opting to let his huge mitts do his talking for him.

Indeed, when the Texas dust had settled on Sunday, Johnson’s pair of fourth-quarter touchdown grabs completed the 4-0 Lions’ improbable 34-30 victory over the Cowboys, a game in which the visitors had trailed 27-3 at one time.

Take that, Chris. You too, Rob.

Fresh off from dining on crow, a humbled Carter revised his opinion on Monday, telling ESPN radio that he and Ryan were out of line by not showing Johnson the respect he so properly deserves.

“(Ryan) said that on the Dallas Cowboys’ roster, they have a couple receivers better than Calvin Johnson,” Carter said. “He should have took note from me what I said before the season that Calvin Johnson wasn’t in the top five. I didn’t say that he couldn’t play, though. He was right on the outside.

“But right now? Calvin Johnson? There’s a king in every crowd, and he’s the king of the NFL right now as far as wide receivers.”

Obviously, Carter has seen the light. The Honolulu blue light.

In the end, no matter how much spin doctoring goes on, Carter and Ryan both made themselves look foolish with their comments about Megatron. And it’s been noticed.

Just ask Peter King, the respected Sports Illustrated senior writer who ripped into the all the Johnson bashers this week.

“Why doesn’t every expert in the world, in the media and on coaching staffs, just shut up about Calvin Johnson. You’re embarrassing yourselves,” King wrote.

Well said.

The numbers speak for themselves. With his performance on Sunday, Johnson became the first receiver to make two touchdown receptions in each of the first four games of an NFL season.

Miles Austin has never done it. Dez Bryant has never done it. No one else has ever done it.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Johnson, aside from his outstanding God-given talent, is the mixture of humility and quiet confidence he exudes when he talks to you at his locker.

Rather than slog through the Cris Carter-Rob Ryan controversy, he would much rather discuss the impact his Cinderella Lions are having on a downtrodden city looking for any boost it can get.

“You notice the effect (our success) has had around town,” Johnson said, flashing a grin of satisfaction. “The fans definitely like the way things are going.

“The biggest change around here is accountability. We don’t have any excuses. We don’t believe in them.”

As he addresses us, Johnson is wearing a blue T-shirt with the words “Our Will!” splashed on the front. It has become a rallying cry for the Lions, one that underscores that the team’s will to win can overcome all obstacles.

No two players exemplify that slogan more than Johnson and quarterback Matthew Stafford. No matter how deep the hole, no matter how dire the circumstances, Stafford knows if he lofts the ball in Johnson’s direction, his top receiver will come down with it more often than not.

“He does a great job and makes me look really good,” Stafford said. “He’s a great receiver and we’re getting to the point now where no matter what kind of look (defences) give us, we have something we can do to combat that.”

And, in the process, make the likes of Cris Carter and Rob Ryan eat their silly words.

PERFECT NICKNAME

As a 6-foot-5 speedster with a lanky gait and hands that snatch anything tossed in his area code, “Megatron” is the perfect nickname for Calvin Johnson.

And he can thank former teammate Roy Williams for giving him that handle.

When Williams, a former first-round pick of the Lions, first saw the kid that Detroit picked second overall in 2007, he marvelled at Johnson’s 4.3 speed in the 40-yard dash and his 43-inch vertical.

During an ensuing interview, Williams referred to Johnson as “Megatron.” The name has stuck to this day.

Williams’ one regret? That he didn’t trademark the name at that time, given the hordes of “Megatron” t-shirts that are being sold in Detroit these days.


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