What Calvin Johnson has to say about Detroit Lions career

It's been four years since Calvin Johnson retired from the NFL as the Detroit Lions all-time leading receiver.

Since then, the bitterness that followed the Lions taking back their signing bonus has faded a bit, but it's still on the mind of Johnson.

Calvin sat down with Sports Illustrated's Michael Rosenberg at his home in Birmingham recently. They talked about a wide range of topics, including the infamous refunded signing bonus.

"If they do [pay back the bonus], great, I put some more money in my pocket. But either way, I'm not trippin'," Johnson told SI, reiterating that he "won't step foot in anything Lions-related" if they don't pay it back.

Johnson said he watched dysfunction in the Lions organizations through different coaches and front offices, even at times questioning the team's commitment to winning.

"Of course. I can say that. And I say it more confidently after I left and saw the way other teams operate."

Johnson was asked if he would've played longer if the Lions had won more games. "I think there is a very strong possibility."

Johnson said he's had some communication with the team, even telling head coach Matt Patricia he'd workout with the team's receivers, but not at the practice facility.

Johnson still has friends on the team, including quarterback Matthew Stafford, but said: "I wouldn't necessarily say I cheer for the Lions," Johnson says. "I cheer for the players."

In 2017, Johnson voiced his frustration with the Lions during his career and even mentioned that he wouldn't come back if he had to play in Detroit.

"If I was to keep playing, I would have to play in Detroit, and that just wasn't for me anymore," Johnson said.

Johnson was asked if he ever considered changing teams.

"I thought about it," Johnson said. "I was stuck in my contract in Detroit, and they told me they would not release my contract so I would have to come back to them."

Johnson spent his entire career with the Lions, holding the team record for most career receptions (715), yards (11,619), and touchdowns (83). 

Johnson holds several NFL records, including the most receiving yards in a single season (1,964), most consecutive games with at least 100 receiving yards (8) and the most receiving yards in a fourth-quarter game (329). 

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.