Back in 2007, Calvin Johnson—who was widely regarded as the best wide receiver in the ’07 NFL Draft class—attended the NFL Combine, but he didn’t plan on running the 40-yard dash during it. He was already considered a top-five prospect, so he didn’t have a whole lot to gain from running the 40. But according to reports, his competitiveness got the best of him once he showed up at the Combine, and he decided to run the 40 after all, even though he hadn’t brought any shoes along with him. He reportedly borrowed a pair from East Carolina quarterback James Pinkney and ended up running the 40 in 4.35 seconds, third-best amongst all wide receivers that year.
At least, that’s the story we’ve all been told for years now.
Shutdown Corner just did some excellent investigative work, though, and revealed that, while Johnson did run the 40 that year, he didn’t do it in a pair of borrowed shoes. It was actually the other way around. According to Pinkney, Johnson saw him struggling with his 40 time and decided to lend him his shoes so that he would have a better chance at impressing scouts.
“Calvin let me use his shoes,” Pinkney said during an interview with Shutdown Corner. “No one ever has called to ask me the real story, all these years…The only thing Calvin was coming to do was run the 40. Everyone had seen him catch everything else. So I was in some turf shoes and I had some Reeboks—the Michael Vicks, that’s what I had at the time. After I ran my first 40, he was like, ‘Yo, man, I see what you’re running in. Here, use my shoes.’”
Does that make what Johnson did less impressive? Eh, maybe. Either way, the Lions used the No. 2 pick in the draft that year to select him. But assuming what Pinkney said is true, it makes Johnson look like a real class act.
“I didn’t know Calvin,” Pinkney said. “For somebody like Calvin Johnson to come up to me and do that, I just felt like he was a normal person to me. I didn’t have the low-top cleats, but he did. All anybody saw [on TV] was us exchanging cleats. Only my close family really knows the true story. We joke about it all the time.”
You can read what else Pinkney had to say about Johnson here.
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[via Shutdown Corner]