The Detroit Lions and Hall of Fame wide receiver Calvin Johnson haven’t been on the same page for a long time. But it appears they may be getting their rhythm back in the heart of Motown.
After a sensational career that saw him rack up eye-popping numbers, Johnson teamed up with quarterback Matthew Stafford to form one of the NFL’s most dynamic duos. Nicknamed ‘Megatron’ for his freakish physical gifts, he racked up 731 catches, 11,619 yards, and 83 touchdowns in nine seasons. Despite playing on subpar teams, he made the Pro Bowl six times.
Drafted with the second overall pick out of Georgia Tech in 2007, he played his entire career in Detroit before walking away from the game at age of 30 in 2016. It was widely known that he left the organization frustrated and with a bit of a bad taste in his mouth.
That bitter flavor was fueled by the fact that the Lions recouped $1.6 million of Johnson’s signing bonus following his retirement. It would end up being the straw that broke the camel’s back.
That drove a huge wedge between Johnson and the team, as he felt like they were taking vengeance on him for his departure.
The Lions reportedly sent a proposal to Johnson in 2021 to pay him back the $1.6 million over years in exchange for 28 hours a year of work for the team, That proposal would include five hours at a game in which the team would honor Johnson and induct his No. 81 into the Pride of the Lions.
To put it mildly… Calvin Johnson was NOT impressed with the offer.
“They need to figure out a way to do it and not have me work for it,” he stated at the time. “Because I already did the work for it.”
So, for several years, neither party was on the other’s good side. However, the ice seems to be thawing up in Michigan, as Johnson and the team have grown closer in recent years. The Detroit great has talked openly about getting more and more involved with the franchise and its fan base. When recently speaking with The New York Post, Calvin Johnson said he and the organization are moving in the right direction after the ugly split.
“We’re trending up. We’re trying to come together and make something happen,” Johnson 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.”
As noted above, Calvin Johnson spent his entire NFL career in Detroit after getting selected 2nd overall in the 2007 draft out of Georgia Tech.
From there, he set franchise records in receptions (731), receiving yards (11,619), and receiving touchdowns (83).
The Lions have been taking a lot of steps forward with Head Coach Dan Campbell at the helm. The team finished at 9-8 and just barely missed qualifying for the postseason. Meanwhile, off the field, the franchise has made it a point to reach out to many of its former stars in an attempt to repair some broken relationships.
Part of a bridge to their past continued earlier this week when they hired former cornerback Dre Bly to coach that same position in Detroit.
Johnson has been involved with the club at times over the years. But a more active presence is something the Lions prefer, as they continue to build a bridge to their past.