Calvin Johnson has been the best wide receiver in the NFL for the past three seasons. He's averaged over 1,500 yards per season since 2010—including last year's historic 1,964 yard effort which broke Jerry Rice's single-season receiving yards record. Considering all that he's done on the field, it's about time he get his own shoe. Nike is releasing the CJ81 Elite TD on May 11. Presale is going on right now at champssports.com and the Sandy Creek HS—Johnson’s alma mater—collection launches on June 29.
We caught up with Calvin Johnson this past weekend at the Nike Yardline event at Champs Sports. Checkout what Johnson had to say about his new shoe, what’s playing on his iPod, and what sport he loved before football.
Talk to us about why you're here with Champs today.
I’m here with Champs today at the Nike Yardline for the launch of my debut shoe, the Nike CJ81 Elite TD. We’re showcasing the cleat today and the trainer will come soon. To be here at Champs for the launch of this thing is big. It’s a great turnout; there are so many kids out here. It’s nice to have their support.
For me to just have my own shoe is unbelievable. As a kid you see Jordans and wonder what that feels like to have your own shoe, and the fact that I have one is really surreal.
How would you describe the shoe?
I really like it, especially the cleat. The cleat is really sleek and my trainer is really comfortable.
Tell us about last season and how it felt to break the single-season receiving yards record.
It was great. A lot of hard work went into that. A lot of my teammates went down, so I had step up and take up the slack for those guys. I didn’t know I’d have that kind of output, but it was just a blessing.
How do you feel about constantly being compared to Jerry Rice and Randy Moss?
I take the positive out of it. There’s definitely nothing negative about it, because those are two great Hall of Fame players and it’s great being compared to them. It’s very cool to have your named mentioned with the likes of such players that have transformed the game or had a huge impact. It’s very honorable.
As a kid you see Jordans and wonder what that feels like to have your own shoe, and the fact that I have one is really surreal.
Tell us about the trash talk between you and Matt Stafford when Georgia and Georgia Tech play one another.
Yeah, we go back and forth a little bit. We always have a friendly wager. I don’t have very much room to talk trash since they’ve been getting us pretty good the past few years. I just keep it hush with Matt for the most part. [Laughs.]
What advice would you give to kids striving to reach the level of success you have in the NFL?
I was telling the kids today that you have to be honest with yourself. Be real with yourself in whatever area of your life and your game that you need improvement on. Once you figure that out, you just have to go out and work on it. For me it’s footwork. I constantly work on it and it’s a never-ending process.
What is it like going up against Chris Houston everyday?
Chris is one of the top corners in the league. I go up against him everyday and he makes me better on a daily basis. During camps and practice we’re always in each other’s faces. He wins some and I win some. The competition level between the two of us is very high and we’re both striving for perfection. It’s been great playing with him for the last couple of years.
Who’s in heaving rotation on your iPod right now?
Young Jeezy’s old mixtape, It’s Tha World. Everybody loves his new single "R.I.P." and all that but I’m on his last mixtape right now. I’m a Southern guy so Jeezy, T.I., and Outkast are always playing on my iPod.
I read somewhere that you weren’t always a football guy growing up.
I was a baseball guy. Mom wouldn’t let me play football when I was little because she was scared I’d get hurt. So, I finally convinced her to let me play in 7th grade. It wasn’t really until the 10th or 11th grade when I started to play well and football took the place of baseball, which was my love when I was five years old. I don’t know what happened, baseball just got boring to me I guess.
Who’s your favorite baseball team?
Oh, it’s the Braves. And Ken Griffey Jr. was my favorite player.
What do you think of what the Uptown boys (BJ and Justin Upton) are doing for the Braves this season?
It’s ridiculous. They’re hot. I love that fact that they are on the same team. The fact that two brothers are on the same team is cool in any situation but the fact that they’re in the middle of the lineup together makes it that much more special.