Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 8/7/12
ALLEN PARK, Mich. What you see on Sundays with Calvin Johnson is the finished product the superstar receiver for the Detroit Lions, a 6-foot-5, 236-pound beast with the nickname of Megatron. What you dont see is the tireless work ethic, his relentless approach to keep getting better and better and better. In an era of diva receivers throughout the NFL, Johnson remains a coachs dream come true. Calvin just got a big contract and he goes out there like its his first year again, Lions cornerback Chris Houston said after a recent training-camp practice. That pushes you. Calvins the best player on the team. If he pushes himself like that, you know you have to push yourself like that. If anyone could afford to take off a few reps during training camp, even some practices, its certainly Calvin Johnson. But hes out there day after day, play after play, setting an example of how to be great. Its a good lesson for everybody to learn who wants to follow an athlete, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. I cant think of anyone better than him. The Lions didnt make Johnson the highest-paid receiver in the NFL eight years for 132 million with 60 million guaranteed just because of his rare talents. They were also paying him for the example he sets to everyone else in the organization, especially inside the locker room. If any team these days needs a good example, its the Detroit Lions, who were rocked during the offseason by a series of negative stories that included seven arrests. Johnson, 26, cant fix all of the clubs problems, but he can show the way to be a pros pro. When a superstar is also a teams hardest worker, it delivers a strong message about whats expected out of everyone. To Johnson, its simply what youre supposed to do. Day after day, he does things the right way. If you want to perfect your craft, youve got to work hard at it, Johnson said. Its not going to come to you. Youve got to work on your skill all the time. And so he just keeps on working. Teammate Nate Burleson, also a receiver, insists that Johnson is actually bigger, stronger and better this year, if thats humanly possible. Its hard to believe, but I think hes right, Linehan said of Burlesons assessment. Its a frightening thought for cornerbacks around the league considering Johnson caught 96 passes for 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. But this is what happens when God-given ability is pushed to the limit by intense desire. I can see that hes gotten stronger, gotten faster, Burleson said. I dont know what it is about him, but each year he comes in working harder than ever. Thats why hes the best in the league. Johnson, naturally, downplays it all, which is his nature. He prefers to stay out of the spotlight, but thats getting more difficult to do. Hes on the cover of the Madden video game. Hes considered the No. 3 player in the game, behind only quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, according to a player poll by the NFL Network. Johnson was even recognized during a recent trip to Mexico, where they referred to him as what else? Megatron. The nickname was given to him during his rookie year by former teammate Roy Williams, who thought Johnsons freakish size and skills were similar to the powerful animated robot character from the Transformers movies. Johnson, entering his sixth season in the NFL, admits he preferred when he could stay under the radar a little more with his celebrity status. I could go wherever I wanted to go without anyone bothering me, he said. I like to go about my business and do what I like to do. Those days are probably over. Even though he doesnt seek the publicity, its his own fault. Hes just gotten too good.
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