Johnson dominated NFL defenses for nearly a decade and soon hopes to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However, fans shouldn’t expect Johnson to shower the Lions organization with praise if he takes the podium in Canton, Ohio.
During a recent podcast appearance, Johnson explained why he feels that he can’t “step foot” inside the Lions’ building.
Calvin Johnson is a Detroit Lions legend
Johnson arrived in 2007 as the No. 2 overall pick, nearly a decade after Sanders scored his final touchdown in Detroit.
Over the next nine seasons, the NFL didn’t have many better receivers than Johnson — and for a good chunk of that span, Johnson proudly wore the ‘best receiver’ crown on his head.
Johnson turned 371 catches into 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns across 135 games and 130 starts with the Lions. A dangerous weapon at 6 feet 5 inches and 237 pounds, Johnson earned Pro Bowl honors in each of his final six seasons and a spot on the AP All-Pro team every year from 2011-13.
Johnson’s 1,964 receiving yards in 2012 remain an NFL single-season record. He added 17 catches for 296 yards and two touchdowns in two career playoff games.
Johnson and his former team have fought over the years
Calvin Johnson hasn’t held back when discussing his issues with the Detroit Lions.
Johnson retired after the 2015 season, one where he caught 88 passes for 1,214 yards and nine touchdowns. Had he returned for the 2016 season, Johnson would have played most of that year at 31 years old.
In June 2019, Johnson explained his issues to the Detroit Free Press. When Johnson retired in 2016, the Lions demanded that he had to return part of his signing bonus — at least $1 million — from a contract extension he had signed in 2012.
Johnson has taken shots at Lions ownership over the years, and the two have not reconciled.
Calvin Johnson says he can’t step foot’ in the Lions’ building
Detroit Lions fans hoping that their team can break bread and reunite with Calvin Johnson might want to find another dream.
In an appearance on the Huddle And Flow podcast, Johnson said he still doesn’t really communicate with the Lions. Johnson explained that he feels the team hasn’t been appreciative of everything he gave in his nine years with the Lions.
“I love the fans here — but I can’t step foot into the building after I dropped so much in there. Because that stung. I mean, it straight up stung. Emotionally, but business-wise? No, it just doesn’t work like that.”
Detroit is expected to hire Saints tight ends coach Dan Campbell as the Lions’ new head coach. Campbell and Johnson played together in Detroit from 2007-08.
If Campbell really wanted to endear himself to Lions fans, he’d see if bringing Johnson back into the fold is feasible.