The NFL world was rocked Monday when a report spread of Calvin Johnson's retirement. The wide receiver finishes his nine-year career at 30 years old with 11,619 receiving yards and 83 receiving touchdowns. He made six Pro Bowls.
But Johnson was actually not the team leader in receptions this season, despite playing in every game. That title belonged to Golden Tate (Tate had 90, Johnson had 88). Tate, a one-time Pro Bowler himself, now takes over as the Lions' number one receiver.
Before Tate does that, he spoke to ThePostGame about Johnson's decision to walk away.
"We knew that was in the talks," he says. "That guy's given so much to the game of football and so much to the organization. As a fellow player, I respect his decision. He's given a lot and he's taken a lot of beatings. He's found a way to compete week-in and week-out on the field and he's achieved a lot of things.
"I think he's had like 11,000 yards and averaged like 90 yards a game. That's impressive. I know that his heart will always be with football. I'm definitely going to miss him on that field. He made everyone around him better.
"He's a true example of what the best and the greatest of all-time should look like: Showing up early, leaving late, taking care of his body, being in the community, keeping God first, obviously balling out and making the guys around him [better]."
When asked of his best memory of Johnson, Tate said:
"Just watching him play. I think TV doesn't do it justice. Seeing this guy climb the ladder and make one-handed catches and acrobatic catches is just amazing. Being around him, I love him."
Tate says he has not reached out to Johnson yet.
"It's so new, it's so fresh," he says. "I'm not even sure if it's official. Weeks from now or whenever it's official, I'll give him a call and say thank you. Thank you for teaching me what the greatest of all-time should look like, how to be a professional, putting the team first. Those are things that definitely don't go unnoticed.
"If you go down the line to anyone that's met Calvin or anyone who's met with him, he's the ultimate team player. He deserves to be called the best of all-time, and it's unfortunate that he left this game without winning as much as he wanted to, because he's definitely a guy who deserves a win."
Tate, 27, served as a coach at the Flag Championships at Super Bowl, Monday, at San Francisco's Moscone Center. The event was presented by USA Football and Nickelodeon.
At Super Bowl Media Day in San Jose, Johnson's Georgia Tech teammate, Demaryius Thomas, was also stunned by the news. The Broncos wide receiver, who redshirted during Johnson's third and final year as a Yellow Jacket in 2006, says he had recently trained with Johnson in Atlanta during the offseason. Thomas acknowledged Johnson is still one of the best receivers in the league, but he tries to justify the retirement.
"At a certain point, you get banged up a lot, people get tired of it," Thomas says. "They know what they have to do in the offseason. It's a quicker turnaround than people usually think."
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.