In 1999 after 10 years and 10 straight Pro Bowl appearances, Detroit Lions' running back Barry Sanders retired from the NFL. He was still playing at a high level and he easily could have continued on, but the up and down nature of the Lion franchise was just too much for him to deal with.
Sanders' name was the first thing I thought of after hearing the news that current Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson was thinking about retirement. In a joint statement with the Lions, Johnson indicated that he is contemplating stepping away from the NFL at the age of 30. "Like many players at this stage of their career, I am currently evaluating options for my future. I would expect to have a decision regarding this matter in the not-too-distant future."
The Lions part of the statement was as follows, "We obviously have profound respect for Calvin and certainly understand and appreciate his decision to give proper thought and consideration to his football future."
During Johnson's time in Detroit they played in 2 Wildcard games and they lost them both.
Johnson has a cap hit of over $24 million next season, so his returning to Detroit was far from a done deal anyway.
If Johnson is done in Detroit, the rest of the NFC North will be breathing a sign of relief, but especially the Chicago Bears. The 6'5", 236 pound Johnson has more receptions (96) and receiving yards (1,480) against the Bears than he does against any other team during his 9 year career.