Sheila Ford Hamp wants to mend fences with Calvin Johnson

NFL: DEC 27 49ers at Lions
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The Lions and receiver Calvin Johnson have had a strained relationship since he retired, and for good reason. When Johnson retired — at a time when his bloated cap number indicated he’d otherwise be cut — the Lions required him to pay back $1.6 million in unearned signing-bonus money. Johnson has made it crystal clear that, if the team wants to patch things up, they can start by paying him back.

Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp wants to mend fences with Johnson. However, she won’t say whether that means the Lions will be making any payment to him.

“I’m not going to go into the money issue, but I hope we can repair things with Calvin Johnson,” Hamp said Thursday, at coach Dan Campbell’s introductory press conference, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “He was obviously an amazing player for us. We’re going to continue to reach out to him and hope that we can repair things because I think it’s important that he comes back into the Lions family. We’d love if he could, if he will.”

It sounds like the Lions won’t be refunding the money, since Johnson has already given them a fairly clear path to fixing things.

They already know what they got to do,” Johnson said in 2019. “The only way they’re going to get me back is they put that money back in my pocket. Nah, you don’t do that. I don’t care what they say. They can put it back, then they can have me back. That’s the bottom line.”

Again, if Johnson hadn’t retired, he surely would have been cut, and he would have owed them nothing. The Lions should have recognized that then. They didn’t. They should recognize it now.

If they want to have a relationship with a player who’ll become a rare Lions Hall of Famer eventually, it will be money well spent.

67 responses to “Sheila Ford Hamp wants to mend fences with Calvin Johnson

  1. On the one hand he did amazing things for that organization, but on the other it’s a bonkers world when someone thinks it’s disrespectful for their employer to ask for unearned money back if the employee quits. He retired, he deserved to retire, but he was paid for a year he did not play. The fact that he’s making such a big deal out of it makes me wonder if he has any money left.

  2. Johnson’s crazy. He retired somewhat abruptly at the age of 30. It would be like if DeAndre Hopkins decided to retire after the 2022 season. He didn’t want to play anymore, that is fine but the money was guaranteed if he played. Would it be a good gesture to pay him? Probably but paying him when and hurting the team is beneficial to only Johnson. While the Lions owners are billionaires, Johnson likely worth over 9 figures. The best idea is likely a compromise where he helps the Lions and they pay him, but doesn’t seem like Johnson is budging unless it is pay me before I do anything. Which is pretty petty.

  3. I would think that they could work out a compromise. Johnson does promotional stuff for them and talk to the team and such, and in return they allow him to earn that money back. He would probably even end up with more than that. Remember, this isn’t the same owner who slighted him as he sees it, so there couuld be something there.

  4. I don’t blame CJ one bit. It’s a jesture of respect for a player who gave so much to an organization. I don’t recall the colts going after Andrew Luck’s money when he abuptly, walked away.

  5. This is silly. We’re talking 1 million dollars here. Have him do some special appearance where he signs some autographs and takes some pictures w fans and pay him a million bucks. Everybody is happy.

  6. I have to disagree. He was not only a great player, he would have been a better ambassador. Why is it that there are NFL teams that just can’t get out of their way and the Lions have been that for a long time. Do the right thing.

  7. This guy has gotten so much press since he retired and he whines all the time about not getting to keep the $.

    Like a spoiled child continually demanding their full allowance even though they didn’t complete their chores.

  8. Lots of respect for Calvin on the field and off it. This is his choice to snub the Lions, just like it’s the Lions choice to consider the matter closed. Nothing more to say. Whether or not the Lions are in the Calvin’s good graces, and vice versa, doesn’t affect his legacy whatsoever. They shouldn’t be pressured to cave to him. That’s ridiculous

  9. That’s a good start. Megatron is the second most prominent and important member of that franchise this century and his skill, talent and ability was wasted in that city. The Lions didn’t paint themselves in glory when he retired. Idk what went on behind the scenes, but as far as John Q Public is concerned, they screwed him.

  10. Not sure who to blame really, but it’s a hell of a thing for a franchise to have two of their most talented players of all time retire prematurely.

  11. I doubt it as if you read his statements over the years its obvious that the money thing was his final straw with the Lions. Its clear he had issues with how dysfunctional the Lions front office has been and how the end result of that was basically zero success as a team, meanwhile the effort he put in resulted with dealing with possibly lifelong chronic pain (as well as other players.

  12. They made Barry Sanders pay back his money to. I don’t see why Calvin Johnson has any obligation to the Lions they wasted his career, trashed him on the way out and made him pay back bonus money. Where as the Colts let Andrew Luck leave with like 25million when he retired that he would’ve had to pay back.

  13. Lions need Johnson more than Johnson needs the Lions. Or maybe I’ve misjudged and the Mike and Roy Williams autograph sessions are reeling in the fans.

    $1.6 million for Calvin Johnson now or $?.? million for Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson later.

  14. All of the greats eventually get to a place where they aren’t worth the amount they are paying them…. it’s a business. Johnson made a lot more money than most of us will ever imagine of having…. sounds like this relationship door swings both ways

  15. Show those greedy owners whats up dude. The Ford family is worth more money than we will ever know. That money is nothing. The thing about respect, is if usually only comes when you pay for it

  16. Every football fan wanted Calvin to stay in the NFL, his departure was way too early and much like Barry Sanders. I fail to see the connection…

  17. I don’t know his career earnings but 1.6 is probably a couple of game checks. It’s the principle, I get it but still…

  18. Johnson made the Lions respectable. Give him what he’s due. This is a sorry NFL franchise.

  19. Your saying no flipping way as if Calvin is demanding a relationship with the lions. He seems content with the way things are. This means it’s the lion’s who want the relationship. If that’s the case, “no flippin way” is what put them in this position to begin with. Repeating that move seems real smart…..

  20. Pay him! He’s still big press and he was by far one of the best players. Players seeing him show up to practice and in the camp is worth it. The tram makes hundreds of millions a day….pay him 1.5 and patch it.
    You’ll get your money back on gold by doing so.
    When you get older you learn a few bucks today pays hundreds later.

  21. The Lions have a lot more to worry about than Calvin Johnson. File this under “who cares”.

  22. I didn’t know he was about to be cut. Why didn’t he just wait it out then, he would have been picked up by a real franchise and may have had a ring. Retired in 2015 at age 30, Pats would have picked him up back then 100%.

  23. Teams rarely go after these types of bonuses of players who were pillars of the franchise when they retire. Especially for this sum of money. ESPECIALLY when they were gonna cut him and be on the hook for the total. It was weird the way it all played out. He wanted to retire a Lion and they wanted to cut him loose. And then they came after him for wanting to respect the franchise and be a lifer and retire there. So strange. It’s a gesture more than anything. Me Johnson made plenty. He feels deeply disrespected and rightfully so. The team would have literally owed him the entire bonus of they’d gotten their way and cut one of the best players in franchise history and instead he decided to devote his ENTIRE CAREER to them rather than chase a few checks that would have exceeded the 1.9 he paid back. Stop pretending they don’t owe him anything. They don’t sell jerseys anymore outside of Detroit lol. He was worth at least that much as a thank you.

  24. I’m not thrilled with the idea of paying someone $1.6M just to be your friend. Sheila Hamp seems to have a different vision than her family predecessors. It will be interesting to see what she does.

  25. An amazing player but he signed a contract. Didn’t fulfill the contract so thats why he owed the money.

    The guy will have tens of millions in the bank anyway, I dont feel sorry for him. He walked away from a contract he signed. Dont see the issue at all, the Lions shouldn’t pay it back at all

  26. I loved him. True professional and no off the field baggage BUT, if all that matters to him about a good relationship is 1.6 millions, before all the money he made in detroit…

    Let him go.

  27. Loins should make the payment, plus interest. Keep your eyes on the prize. Way better to have Megatron in the big tent than outside.

  28. all that fuss over 1,6 million? From the owners/team pov it’s a PR nightmare, since the sum is so small. They probably spend the same amount to keep the fridge full on their private jet

  29. Whether or not things get patched up will not alter my perception of Calvin Johnson or the team.

  30. Making him pay that money back was a serious no class move on the Lions part. They need to make that right.

  31. The Lions being cheap and petty with one of their best players ever. Johnson made the decision to retire but they made the decision to turn it into bad blood. This is the kind of thing that bad ownership gives you.

  32. So tired of him playing the victim here . The Lions gave him a huge contract that kept him as one of the highest paid players in the league and far more then any other WR made during that time . He claims he knew that 2015 was going to be his last season saying he told teammates that during the year but waited till March 2016 to tell the Lions . Even though they could have forced Johnson to repay a big chunk of his signing bonus they instead only requested $1M and only did that to maximize cap space that wouldn’t have been possible without him returning the money . The Lions did nothing wrong and the only issue here is Megawhines greed and based on his irrational comments thinking the Lions are better off without him being around the team .

  33. “if Johnson hadn’t retired, he surely would have been cut, and he would have owed them nothing. The Lions should have recognized that then.”

    That’s a pretty big IF statement. But lets say its true, since you make it out to be so obvious. Shouldnt Calvin have recognized that and just waited to be cut?

  34. She is worth over a billion dollars…just pay him the money, try to look good. They have wasted way more money on trash things. Give it up for one of your best players ever.

  35. Reach out to Megatron with a cashier’s check. Is it too late for him to sign a one-day contract with, say, the Bears so he can go into the HoF as a Bear?

  36. This is the kind of pettiness that keeps the Lions mired in mediocrity, and worse.
    A billionaire owner, also in possession of a constant money making machine that is an NFL franchise, hardballing the teams icons over what is an insignificant sum for the franchise but very significant for the players.
    They did it to Barry Sanders, and they did it to Calvin Johnson.
    Their decade long stints with the organization should have yielded less acrimony, especially since the team wasted their phenomenal talents with the regular but extraordinary level of incompetence and disfunction you come to expect with the Detroit Lions.
    These are the kind of actions that make a team an undesirable place for players when they’re free agents, to come and to leave Detroit.

  37. How miserable can a teams ownership and culture be to break the moral of one of the best running backs and receivers in history?

  38. kevines255 says:
    January 22, 2021 at 8:46 am
    She is worth over a billion dollars…just pay him the money, try to look good. They have wasted way more money on trash things. Give it up for one of your best players ever.
    What does the owner’s worth have to do with it? Why should she write a check for money he didn’t contractually earn? Maybe one day you’ll go for a haircut. The stylist will only cut 2/3 of your hair, but that 2/3 will look the best it ever has. Then they will just stop and expect full payment. You’d pay, right?

  39. the Lions have so many real world issues to deal with. Old great (but greedy) retired players are not on that list.

  40. This isn’t about the money for Calvin. It’s about the principle and respect for a guy that gave his all for the organization and was a model citizen on and off the field. He stuck by a losing team through his entire career with nary a peep of discontent and in the end when his body was breaking down and he could give no more, the Lions decided to take back what they could, a measly $1.1 million dollars.

  41. Just like the Coach they just hired, another failure. Listened to his press conference, Sounds like a high school coach! Thanks for being a cheap shot dirty team! Not going to lead to anymore wins. Dumb is Dumb!

  42. When I visited the pro football hall of fame the Lions were very well represented, 17 or higher inducties. Don’t know what the authors on this website have against them, but it is getting old, yes they haven’t been to a Super bowl, but alot of teams are looking for their first super bowl win. Minnesota, Cleveland, Atlanta,Houston, San Diego, Carolina,Tennessee, Cincinnati,just to name eight out of twelve.

  43. This is pretty simple.

    If the Lions want the benefit of having one of their greatest players ever be an ambassador for the franchise, and it sounds as if that’s exactly what Shiela Ford Hamp wants, they need to do what’s necessary to fix the relationship.

  44. “I’m not going to go into the money issue, but I hope we can repair things with Calvin Johnson,”

    All for just $1.6m to one of the greatest WRs of all time, and the best in your franchise history. That’s why the Lions will be the Lions, it starts at the top and that’s why these teams never change.

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