Calvin Johnson leaves ego at door

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson carries the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during...

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson carries the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during the first half of their NFL football game in Detroit, Michigan December 11, 2011. (Rebecca Cook/REUTERS)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:54 PM ET

ALLEN PARK, MICH. - They might call the Detroit Lions' all-world wide receiver "Megatron." But they'll never call him "Mega-ego."

Despite becoming a superstar the past couple of years, and despite becoming the highest-paid non-quarterback in league history (upon signing a seven-year, $132 million deal in March), Calvin Johnson doesn't act like it at all.

Something I saw last week at a Lions training-camp practice reminded me of what Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey told me about Johnson back in March, at the NFL's annual meeting in Palm Beach, Fla.

Gailey was regaling me with stories of Johnson's stint at Georgia Tech University from 2004-06, which coincided with Gailey's turn as the Yellowjackets' head coach. Gailey concluded with this gem.

"The best story about Calvin, to me, is this," Gailey said. "He'd been all-rookie, all-this, all-that. It's his junior year, and everybody that comes to practice is watching him. He is a preseason All-American or something -- just amazing.

"And the pro scouts are out there asking me what kind of guy he is, and I point. And there's an overthrow -- the quarterback throws the ball, Calvin runs the slant and the ball is overthrown, and the ball goes down there about 30 yards.

"He hits the slant, turns, and runs down there and picks up the ball and runs back. He didn't wait for a ball boy to go get it. He didn't ask somebody else to go get it. That's Calvin."

When I attended Lions practice a week ago Monday, Johnson sat out team drills, with his left index finger wrapped up. He returned to practice the next day, and last Friday night he played -- spectacularly, natch -- against the Ravens in Baltimore.

The thing that jogged my memory of Gailey's story?

Megatron was hanging with the wide receivers for most of the practice, just itching to get involved. And he helped out just about any way he could, even with the most menial of tasks.

There he was, collecting balls for the ball boys. Again. All these years, and tens of millions of dollars, later.

Back in March, I asked Gailey if he had any idea when he recruited Johnson out of high school that Johnson might become one of the most dynamic receivers in the NFL.

"Well, I had no idea his nickname would be Megatron," Gailey said. "Somebody said, 'Did you guarantee him a starting spot? Did he win the spot when he first showed up at campus?' Nope. It took until Day 2. He wasn't a starter on Day 1, (but) was on Day 2.

"He was an amazing guy, and an amazing young man. A really humble, nice (guy from a) great family. Everything you could ever want as a teammate."

Gailey said that none of Johnson's success in the pros has shocked him..

"It was just a matter of him being able to learn it fast enough, and get the nuances of playing (wide receiver in the NFL). Because in college he never saw single coverage -- he never saw it. So he had to learn how to beat single coverage. Most people have to learn to beat double teams. He knew how to do that. This guy only had to learn how to beat single coverage."

He was a quick study.

KEILAND WILLIAMS' SLIMMER IN BLACK

Backup Detroit Lions running back Keiland Williams hasn't lost any weight. Really.

Told by a reporter last week he looks leaner than his listed 5-foot-11, 230-pound weight, Williams cracked, "Maybe it's the black that I wear."

But, seriously.

"No, on the scales it pretty much says the same thing."

Really? Because quarterback Matthew Stafford looks leaner than his listed weight of 232, Williams was told.

"Uhhh, I don't really think so. I mean, I look in the mirror and as long as the six-pack is still there, I'm fine."

Seriously? On a 230-pound bowling ball of a running back?

"Nawww, I'm good, ha!"


Videos

Photos