Calvin Johnson Explains Frustration With Lions: ‘It’s the Principle’

Calvin Johnson

Getty Calvin Johnson speaks during a Hall of Fame enshrinee roundtable in August 2021.

Calvin Johnson still hasn’t patched things up with the Detroit Lions, and the reasoning for that seems to be simple at this point in time. The team hasn’t committed to paying him his money back.

After being inducted into the Hall of Fame, Johnson continues to make the rounds and continues to make the case about what he thinks needs to change between the sides. As he said, the Lions just have to pay up in order to get his attention and make things right with the situation.

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Speaking on an episode of In Depth with Graham Bensinger posted on September 15, Johnson talked more about where the sides are currently at. As he said, there hasn’t been many changes from where things have been since he retired in 2016.

Calvin Johnson: No effort from Lions to resolve riftPro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Calvin Johnson openly addresses his rift with the Detroit Lions. Johnson – aka Megatron – says that Lions ownership treated its players like pawns and numbers rather than people, and the organization has yet to show any real effort to repair the relationship. For FULL EPISODES and EXCLUSIVE…2021-09-15T13:48:18Z

Specifically, Johnson said that while the team has made some overtures, there’s been nothing he would see as concrete from the Detroit side. He maintains he would like a resolution and he doesn’t want to close a chapter, but he doesn’t want to work for the team to earn the money either, as has been floated as a hypothetical resolution in recent months.

“They sent us some stuff, but hasn’t really been an effort to resolve it, no. That would be nice. I’m not going to close the chapter, but I’m not going to bend over backwards to try to do anything because I didn’t do anything. I did my job,” Johnson said in the interview. “Not saying they got to repay me the $1.6 (million) all up front, but they need to figure out a way to do it and not have me work for it, because I already did the work for it. ‘Come work for it.’ It’s a joke.”

As for why, Johnson offered a very spot-on analogy to Bensinger.

“I’ll put it like this, imagine you had a friend, or maybe not a friend, just somebody. They gave you something and then they take it back. Are y’all still going to really hang out? Are y’all still cool? Imagine you did a whole bunch of work for it too, it’s the principle. It’s the principle of it all,” he explained. “Like, no you cannot have me back unless you put that money back in my pocket. They ain’t got to do it all at once, you got to commit to do it in the right way, but I am not working for it. I don’t mind coming and doing work for the organization because I love football, I love coming back into the team. But there ain’t no way in the world I am coming over there to do anything unless it’s coming back and I see how it’s coming back.”

The clock continues to tick on the Lions to work for an acceptable resolution, but based on what Johnson says in this interview, the expectations on his end are very clear. At this point, it’s all about the team finding a way to meet them.

Calvin Johnson Returning to Ford Field Soon

This season, Johnson will come back to his former football home to take in a game as well as receive some accolades for his recent Hall of Fame accomplishment following his Lions’ career.

As Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reported on Twitter, Johnson will make his return to Ford Field to receive his Hall of Fame ring during a game on Sunday, September 26, 2021 during the NFL’s Week 3 against the Baltimore Ravens.

Obviously, the question that is likely still on plenty of minds is if the wideout has patched things up with the team, but Birkett’s wording of the tweet clarifies that things have not yet been rectified between the sides at this point in time. The interview above cements it as well.

It seems unlikely the Lions could patch things up so quickly even as simple as a resolution might be, so Johnson is likely to still be at odds with the Lions even as he gets honored for cracking the Hall of Fame at Ford Field. It will be interesting to say the least how everything plays out at that time.

Why Lions Must Patch Things up With Johnson Fast

It’s past the point where the team needs to figure out a way to make Johnson happy and get the job done with a payment so everyone can move forward. Even if it involves paying him directly, the Lions should do it. There is no benefit to feuding with a Hall of Famer and a player who represents one of the best ever at his position over such a small sum of money for a professional sports franchise. Business may have been business, but at this point, the Lions have to care more about the damage it does to their reputation to see a former legend so frustrated with their entire franchise and constantly speaking out about it.

Johnson has set the ground rules, and the Lions have to start playing by them whether they like it or not. He’s just one man, but he is also one of the most important players the team has ever had and is deserving of a competent resolution to a situation that frustrates him.

READ NEXT: T.J. Hockenson Explains Lions’ New Mindset for 2021

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