Calvin Johnson: Rift with Lions still cuts deep

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Former Lion Calvin Johnson, here at a Pistons-Cavaliers game at Little Caesars Arena in November, said his former team has not mended fences with him.

Allen Park — It’s been nearly two years since Calvin Johnson retired from football and his relationship with the Detroit Lions remains fractured.

In an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio Friday night, Johnson said the team has not made an effort to mend the fences.

“They say they have, but no,” Johnson said.

That statement is contrary to what team president Rod Wood told WJR, the team’s flagship station, in June. He noted he had extended an invitation for Johnson to attend training camp.

In May, Johnson said he didn’t like the way he was treated by the organization after his retirement, likely stemming from the Lions seeking to recoup some of the signing bonus from his final contract. It was reported he paid back $1 million to the team.

Johnson is currently in New Haven, Conn., where he is being honored as the Walter Camp Foundation Man of the Year, an honor given to a former player who has distinguished himself in the pursuit of excellence as an athlete, in his personal career and in doing good works for others.

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Since retiring, Johnson has opened up a real estate and consulting firm with former teammates. The group focuses on helping professional athletes successfully transition into careers after sports. He also continues to do work through his foundation, which puts an emphasis on education, training, and social development of at-risk youth, along with providing financial assistance to community organizations.

Not surprisingly, Johnson reiterated he has no plans on returning to the NFL, as a player or a coach. He also had little insight on the Lions’ current situation, as the franchise searches for its next head coach.

“Can’t call it,” Johnson said. “I don’t know any of the people there now, so it would be tough for me. You hate to see (former coach Jim) Caldwell go — great guy, guys love to play for him. Just the man in general is someone that you’d invite out to dinner, take out dinner. He’s the kind of guy.”