Legendary Lions WR Spotted at OTAs as Relationship With Team Improves

Calvin Johnson

Getty Calvin Johnson gestures in a 2015 game against Dallas.

Calvin Johnson’s relationship with the Detroit Lions has been steadily improving after a bitter ending to his tenure, and the two sides took a major step this week as Johnson arrived as a special guest at team OTAs.

The Lions shared a video on Twitter of Johnson’s arrival at the team facility on May 24, posting the caption “absolutely love to see it.” Johnson had recently shared some optimism about his repairing relationship with the franchise, saying in February that things had been improving after a messy exit with his retirement in 2015.

Calvin Johnson: Things ‘Trending Up’

The relationship between the two sides once appeared beyond repair, with Johnson telling the Detroit Free Press in 2019 that he would not return to the franchise unless the team paid the roughly $1.6 million signing bonus that the team recouped when he retired.

Johnson delivered something of an ultimatum to the team, calling on them to pay him.

“They already know what they got to do,” Johnson told the newspaper. “The only way they’re going to get me back is they put that money back in my pocket. Nah, you don’t do that. I don’t care what they say. They can put it back, then they can have me back. That’s the bottom line.”

But both sides remained committed to improving the relationship, and Johnson said in February that he hoped to start being more active with the team.

“We’re trending up. We’re trying to come together and make something happen,” Johnson said, via the New York Post. “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.”

Johnson added that there was also some communication with the team about the money he believed he was owed, but did not share further details on what that entailed.

The relationship has continued to improve since then. In an interview with Fox 2 News reporter Ryan Ermanni posted on Twitter on May 24, Johnson said that he was talking to more people within the organization.

“We have had more and more frequent discussions,” Johnson said. “Speaking a lot with not just Mike Disner over there. Even more people are coming into the fold, being able to talk to the coaches and whatnot. It’s very cool.”

Calvin Johnson’s Advice for Young Lions WR

Johnson also shared some advice for Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams, who was handed a six-game suspension for violating the league’s gambling policy. Johnson said dealing with adversity is part of the game, even when things appear to be going well, and said Williams needs to find a way to work through it.

“It’s really just how you interact with that adversity,” Johnson said. “How do you combat that adversity? Do you allow the adversity to hold you down or do you push up? Do you thrive? Do you stand back up? This is all about getting back up.  No matter how many times you’re getting knocked down, you just got to keep on getting back up and you’ll find success.”

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