Calvin Johnson is set to hit the Hall of Fame in 2021, meaning the Detroit Lions have a chance to make things right with their star wideout ahead of that moment after a rocky handful of year since he retired in 2015.
Time is ticking for the team to try and get something done on the Johnson front, though, and to this point, the wideout maintains he is still not “back in the family” with the franchise as of yet, even though that’s something he thinks would be nice if it were to happen.
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Johnson joined Woodward Sports along with former teammate Rob Sims, and amongst a few of the more interesting revelations that he explained, Detroit wouldn’t trade or release him at the time of his retirement, which was a part of the frustration he had with the team over his exit.
“At the end there, when it was time to retire on the way out, we asked would they release me or let me go to another team, they wouldn’t. I’m not back in the family with the Lions or anything like that. It would be nice to if they try to resolve things. But that’s neither here nor there, you know, I’m here to support the players. That’s what it’s all about.”
Obviously, it’s more than interesting that the team would not let Johnson seek a trade or release him, which mirrors what happened to Barry Sanders as he was leaving the Lions. Things have changed with the organization with new owner Sheila Ford Hamp in charge as they showed when they traded Matthew Stafford, a move that Stafford has praised the new brass for multiple times.
On a positive note, it’s nice to hear that Johnson is at least open to the chance to get back with the Lions even though it has not happened yet, apparently. The ball seems to remain in the franchise’s court as it relates to that, something which Ford-Hamp seems to want as much as Johnson.
With this quote in mind, though, it might be time to prove it once and for all.
Lions Brass Felt Johnson Relationship Was Progressing
Back in February when it was revealed Johnson had cracked Canton, Ohio, the wideout admitted that he was at least on speaking terms with the Lions and sides were working on a resolution. After that, Rod Wood confirmed things were moving in that positive direction.
Speaking with the media back then, Wood explained that the Lions and Johnson are still getting things patched up and the team is working on some celebrations with Johnson in the months ahead.
Johnson will join the Hall of Fame later on this year, and it’s clear the Lions are going to be involved with him by then so that they can properly celebrate the achievement. It’s nice to know the team is still committed to getting things right with Johnson long-term. The hope is that they are serious about making things right.
Johnson, Lions Working on Repairing Relationship
For the last handful of seasons, Johnson has been embroiled in a feud with the Lions over the amount of money the team made him pay back upon his retirement, Johnson has avoided much contact with the team in the time since, but the Lions want to bring him back in the fold. Contrary to what team president Rod Wood has maintained, Johnson claims the Lions haven’t reached out to him lately. It always seemed like it would be wise for Sheila Ford Hamp to mend those fences before Johnson gets inducted in Canton, Ohio.
According to Johnson himself a few months back, there was communication between he and the team’s brass, leading to the notion that the relationship could be set to get patched up and on the way to being repaired soon.
Whether or not that is still happening now is anyone’s guess, but the Lions would be smart to listen to Johnson and make something happen. It’s only a matter of time before one of their most identifiable figures heads to the Hall of Fame. Mending these fences would seem to be a must for the team as well as Johnson.