Calvin Johnson showed his running and leaping ability during his nine seasons in the NFL. Now, he’ll have to show how good his feet are.
The retired Detroit Lions wide receiver may not be competing in the NFL this fall, but he’ll still be on your television screens every week as a contestant on Season 23 of "Dancing with the Stars," partnered with Lindsay Arnold when it premieres on September 12 -- the day after the Lions’ season opener against Indianapolis.
And this could be interesting. See, Johnson rarely celebrated and didn’t dance after touchdowns. His rhythm? Well, his siblings questioned it -- heavily -- during an E:60 feature with Lisa Salters.
Johnson, though, insisted in the story he can move.
“I have rhythm,” Johnson said in the Salters piece. “I just don’t dance, though. I’m just not a dancer.”
If his siblings are right, he’ll get to pick up a new skill on national television. If his siblings are wrong and Johnson can dance, well, he might have a shot to win the show based on previous NFL player experiences.
He’s joining a long list of current and former NFL stars who have been on the show. Jerry Rice was the runner-up in Season 2 with Anna Trebunskaya and Emmitt Smith gave the league its first DWTS winner, partnered with Cheryl Burke in Season 3.
Jason Taylor was the runner-up in Season 6 with Edyta Sliwinska and Warren Sapp was the runner-up the following season with Kym Johnson. Lawrence Taylor was the first NFL player to not finish in the top 2, placing seventh with Sliwinska in Season 8. Michael Irvin then finished seventh in Season 9 with Anna Demidova.
Chad Johnson was fourth in Season 10 with Cheryl Burke and Kurt Warner was fifth in Season 11 with Trebunskaya.
The NFL had a winner again in Season 12 with Hines Ward and Kym Johnson and again in Season 14 with Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd. Smith returned for the All-Stars season and finished fourth with Burke.
Jacoby Jones was third in Season 16 with Karina Smirnoff and then the league’s representatives had a rough Season 17, with Keyshawn Johnson and Sharna Burgess finishing last. Michael Sam finished 10th in Season 20 with Murgatroyd.
Last season had three NFL-related contestants. Doug Flutie finished ninth with Smirnoff, Von Miller tied for seventh with Witney Carson and Antonio Brown -- who threatened Johnson’s single-season receiving record last year -- tied for fourth with Burgess.
Johnson retired from the Lions after nine seasons in March, saying his body was beat up and that the game had taken a lot out of him. In June, Johnson said he wasn’t totally sure what was going to be next for him -- he had just gotten married at the time -- but that he was contemplating finishing up his degree at Georgia Tech and wanted to work more with his foundation. One area he said he wouldn't venture into is politics.
At the time, nothing was mentioned about a reality television future. But the soft-spoken superstar is now giving it a try.