The Detroit Lions and wideout Calvin Johnson have been at odds since the latter’s retirement, but perhaps there’s been a new turning point in the team’s relationship with the Hall of Famer.
Johnson, who has been frustrated by Detroit’s refusal to pay him back the $1.6 million dollars that the team collected post-retirement, has been estranged from the team in spite of his induction into the Hall of Fame last summer. Now, though, the ice may have finally broken.
As Ryan Glasspiegel of the New York Post detailed in a piece, Johnson admitted to him in a recent interview that the relationship between the sides is “trending up” and they are “trying to come together to make something happen” because Johnson wants a future with the team.
“We’re trending up. We’re trying to come together and make something happen,” Johnson, a 2021 Hall of Fame inductee, said. “Obviously I’d love to be around the team and do more things there and help the guys out. It’s good that we’re moving in the right direction.” Asked specifically about the money, he declined to elaborate: “Like I said, we’re in the process,” Johnson said in Glasspiegel’s piece.
While that nugget might be exciting enough for fans, Johnson’s take on former teammate Dan Campbell and what he is building in Detroit as head coach could really rev their engines.
“Johnson expressed positivity about Dan Campbell as “a warrior” and admired the way the Lions fought for the head coach, particularly in the second half of the season. The Lions pushed for a playoff spot until the final week of the season, finishing 9-8 after a 1-6 start,” Glasspiegel wrote.
Detroit’s coaching staff under Campbell is littered with former players, many of whom are personalities Johnson would have competed with and against during his in the league. There’s no doubt that he could provide some helpful insight to the franchise and its young roster if only the key differences could be worked out. It’s clear Johnson has been craving the idea of a return for some time.
Perhaps that resolution isn’t as far away as it once seemed with this new update.
Johnson Recently Sent Message to Lions About Reunion
It’c clear Johnson has craved some sort of resolution with the team, and that is something he proved again when he connected with Richard Sherman back in December of 2022.
Johnson spoke on The Richard Sherman Podcast on Volume Sports at that time, and Sherman, the former Super Bowl winning cornerback, asked him for an update about where things stood between he and Detroit then. As Johnson said at the time, he has not been in the building or around the team, despite a desire for him to do so.
“I’m going to say no. I was going to tell you what happened the last time I was in the building, but I’m just going to stop and say no, I have not been in the building,” Johnson said with a laugh on the show.
Sherman goes on to say that the Lions should welcome Johnson back with open arms and not ask any questions because of what he means to the team and the franchise along with fellow Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders.
Johnson, for his part, sent a message to the Lions that he wants to be in the mix to offer the young team some wisdom.
“I just really want to be around the guys. I want to be around the team because I know I have a lot to give back to the players. Not just my position, the DB room, I’m an open book,” Johnson said to Sherman on the show.
Maybe Johnson’s public plea to Sherman meant something to the Lions, and the team has been able to help the relationship flourish in the past few months after a change of heart.
Johnson’s Career Stats & Highlights
After coming into the league with the Lions in 2007, Johnson wasted little time putting up great plays and amazing statistics.
In his career, Johnson put up 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns and more than that, was a human highlight reel unlike any other receiver on the list.
Out of Georgia Tech, Johnson was labeled as one of the freakiest players in the draft and he lived up to that distinction in the NFL. Here’s a reminder of his talent:
Johnson shattered Rice’s record of 1,848 receiving yards during the 2012 season and was a stable force for the team, often playing through pain and discomfort on the field. He walked away following the 2015 season, leaving a gaping hole in Detroit’s wideout group.
Since, Johnson has been embroiled in a feud with the Lions for at least a handful of years over money that the team made him pay back upon retirement. The sides have been at odds about that since at least 2019 if not closer to 2017, when Johnson visited camp with the Las Vegas Raiders and the beef was first mentioned.
Johnson has a lot to offer his former team as a sounding board, so it would be nice if the Lions would simply find a way to patch up the relationship with their former leading wideout and move on.
Perhaps that can finally be the case after this very hopeful new development between the sides.