"Of course, it will feel like a slight, I guess, if you don't get in the first time and you're up there, you're a finalist," Johnson told NFL Network's Steve Wyche and Jim Trotter on the Huddle & Flow podcast (h/t Adam Maya of NFL.com). "I can't say that it wouldn't, because we're human, we're emotional. But it'll happen. I confidently feel like it'll happen. Will it happen first time? That would be awesome. Get it out of the way. Why not?"
Perhaps nothing is working against Johnson's chances of landing in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot more than the historical precedent at his position.
Maya noted only six wide receivers in NFL history have been named first-ballot Hall of Famers. Notable names such as Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison, Cris Carter and Michael Irvin are among those who weren't.
There was little doubting Johnson's status as a Hall of Fame talent during his nine-year career with the Lions.
He surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in seven of those years, led the league in receiving yards twice, made six Pro Bowls and was named a first-team All-Pro three times. In all, he finished with 731 catches for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns.
It was rather shocking when Johnson did retire considering he went over 1,000 receiving yards in each of his last six seasons and tallied 1,214 in his final one. He was still among the league's best overall playmakers and a matchup nightmare who was too big and fast for almost every cornerback he went up against.
Whether nine years of dominance will be enough to convince Hall of Fame voters to put him in on his first ballot remains to be seen, and he will find out on Feb. 6 when the class is revealed.