Johnson on what it means to be a member of the Hall of Fame

Calvin Johnson is already feeling the full force of what it means to be a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Detroit Lions' legend earned his reputation as one of the most dominating wide receivers of his era in nine seasons with the Lions. Now he is moving into more elite territory as a member of the Hall of Fame Class of 2021.

Johnson spoke passionately Sunday morning in a press conference via Zoom when asked what it means to be a Hall of Famer.

"To be a member of this great fraternity, to be a member of the guys I grew up watching, to be alongside the guys I emulated my game after and watched on Sunday -- I did this because of you," Johnson said.

"I saw you do this."

Generations of players will say they saw Calvin Johnson do it -- and at a level few have reached.

Johnson was one of five modern-era players voted into the Hall of Fame Class of 2021.

Johnson, quarterback Peyton Manning and defensive back Charles Woodson were voted in on the first ballot. Offensive lineman Alan Faneca and safety John Lynch had been up for election numerous times.

Also voted in were wide receiver Drew Pearson as a senior, Tom Flores as a coach and Bill Nunn as a contributor.

Johnson and Faneca shared a press conference that lasted about 30 minutes.

In response to a question near the end of the session, Johnson indicated that a reconciliation with Lions management might be at hand. They have been at odds since Johnson retired in March of 2016.

Conversations with Lions principal owner Sheila Ford Hamp are leading to a mending of fences, Johnson said.

"I really do hope it does," Johnson said. "It's been good to get to know her and have face to face conversations. I think that we're moving in the right direction."

Voting on the Class of 2021 was done virtually on Jan. 19.

To remain within NFL protocols for the COVID-19 pandemic, HOF President and CEO Dave Baker traveled the country to produce videos of him informing players that they were voted into the Hall. The videos were used in the NFL honors show on CBS Saturday night.

Remarkably, word did not leak out.

Johnson is one of 17 Hall of Famers who are considered to have played all or a substantial portion of their careers with the Lions.

One legitimate question about Johnson's candidacy was the fact that he played only nine seasons. In the end, the voters decided that his production outweighed the length of his career.

"It says a lot for the way I played the game," Johnson said. "I appreciate you guys (the voters) taking notice -- 100 percent."

Baker's visit caught him by surprise, Johnson said.

"They got me good," Johnson said. "It took about two seconds for it to sink in.

"My hair just raised up."

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