That fact is just downright embarrassing to a former member of the team in quarterback turned ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky. As a former member of the Lions, Orlovsky feels as if he is qualified to speak out about the situation, and he offered perhaps his strongest take yet on the situation.
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Speaking on an episode of First Take, Orlovsky railed on the Lions for their handling of the Johnson situation. As he said, this is a frustrating situation because the team is treating one of their franchise legends in a very poor fashion. That’s something he feels he can point out, even as much as he loves the franchise and team.
“This drives me nuts and I love the Lions. This is so stupid by them. I was there when we were terrible, we were the laughing stock of the NFL. Those fans came to every single game. One of the reasons why was to watch that Hall of Fame player play,” Orlovsky said. “We were on Monday Night Football a couple times, and the only reason why was number 81. He’s one of the pillars of that city. This man could have left Detroit after he was done playing. He still lives in that city. He’s a man of character. His family is incredible, Detroit means a lot to him. They’re basically telling him they don’t want him to be part of their organization over $1.6 million dollars. This is so ignorant by them because Calvin wants to be a part of that place.”
Johnson recently returned and fans let ownership have it just ahead of his ceremony, proving where public sentiment could lie in this particular case. Obviously, many could be counted as believers that the Lions owe it to Johnson to improve the situation between the sides.
Orlovsky’s Solution for Lions’ Situation With Johnson
Naturally, Orlovsky feels the Lions need to pay Johnson back his money, and as he says, he believes the team should go one step further and give him interest on top of that for the trouble. As he also said, he doesn’t believe the Lions should make him work for the money, either, a potential solution that’s been floated to bridge the gap in the feud in recent months.
“Not only should they pay him back that $1.6 million dollars, they should put interest on it because that money should be sitting in the bank account,” Orlovsky said. “They should go to Calvin and go ‘whatever we need to do, you need to be a part of our organization.’ No, there’s no side job Lions. There’s no community service he should have to do. There’s no appearances he should have to do. You guys have to make this right. Calvin Johnson is right with the Detroit Lions. Listen, he’s one of the faces of the franchise for the last 50 years. Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson. The Lions should make this right. This is in many ways an embarrassment that one of the faces of your organization, this man gave that football organization everything he had. The Lions owe it to their fans their organization, and they owe it to their players and mainly Calvin Johnson, you call him, you send his money back plus interest and go ‘what do you want, because we want you as part of our organization.'”
While Detroit ownership has maintained in the past they want to make things right with Johnson, there’s been no improvement of the situation in recent months, which is no doubt a tough fact for Johnson and others like Orlovsky that appreciate him.
Johnson Explains How Feud Will Go Away
Speaking on an episode of In Depth with Graham Bensinger posted last month 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.
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.”
It seems that both Johnson and Orlovsky would be counted as agreeing that money is the only way out of the mess the Lions are in at this moment. Whether the team elects to pay up or not remains to be seen.