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Calvin Johnson notes Big Ten football postponement hurts business as he stumps for Biden

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson Jr. stumped for Vice President Joe Biden Thursday in a Zoom round table in which he noted his own Michigan businesses and others across the state would suffer from the postponement of the Big Ten football season. 

Johnson, who manages some properties and sells cannabis in Michigan, assigned blame for the postponement to President Donald Trump, whose "lack of empathy" and failure in leadership have exacerbated the coronavirus pandemic.

"What if we had done the same with the federal response?" Johnson said. "What if we had a leader by example that wears his mask that preaches social distancing and believes in the science?"

Former Detroit Lions player Calvin Johnson joined a Zoom roundtable Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, to boost Vice President Joe Biden in Michigan.

Trump said Wednesday the Big Ten is on the "one-yard line" in an attempt to continue fall football and that he'd had a conversation with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren "about immediately starting up Big Ten football."

Johnson said the postponed football season would cost businesses like his and others throughout the state. In particular, he mentioned businesses he owned in Lansing and Niles, where folks traveling to a Notre Dame football game might traverse.

"The leadership in Michigan here, Gov. Gretchen, took it seriously from day one, locking things down, saving a lot of lives," he said. 

The Big Ten postponed the season with the support of Michigan State University and most other universities. 

State Rep. Joe Tate, D-Detroit, noted a 2015 Anderson Economic Group study estimated University of Michigan football games generated $82 million in spending from 632,000 visitors. Tate was a three-year starting offensive lineman at Michigan State and a co-captain in 2003

"It's clear to me that Joe Biden would have taken this seriously from Day 1," Tate said. "He would have had a strategy. He would have worked with our state leaders and listened to our public health experts."

eleblanc@detroitnews.com