Calvin Johnson had “great conversations” with Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp

JERRY HOLT •jgholt@startribune.com 10/12/2008 Lions @ Minnesota------] Lion’s receiver Calvin Johnson jumped over Vikings Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin for a third quarter Lions touchdown.
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The relationship between the Lions and Calvin Johnson has been frosty ever since Johnson retired and the Lions required him to pay back part of his signing bonus — something they were contractually permitted to do because he walked away before his contract was up, but something that many teams have chosen not to do when great players decide it’s time to hang up the cleats.

But that frosty relationship seems to be thawing.

Johnson said this morning, after learning yesterday that he’s been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, that he and Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp have been in regular contact and that he can see himself re-joining the Lions family.

“Myself and Sheila Ford Hamp have had great conversations,” Johnson said. “We’re moving in the right direction.”

An easy way for the Lions and Johnson to get on the same page would be for the Lions to pay him to be an ambassador for the team. Johnson could make back the money the Lions charged him by making appearances for the Lions, and Megatron and the Lions could both end up happy.

18 responses to “Calvin Johnson had “great conversations” with Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp

  1. I’m on the fence on this one.

    Most teams don’t ask for repayment. But that doesn’t mean they can’t obviously, or shouldn’t.

    The question is – should the Lions have done that with Calvin Johnson?

    I’d be interested to see how many years into that extension he called it quits, along with what their cap situation was.

  2. If someone pays you for services and you take the money, but then walk away, that’s stealing. I don’t care if some teams allow stealing, it’s not right, and the Lions certainly aren’t the bad guy here. The Lions never won a single playoff game during Johnson’s career. They’re trying to move in another direction. Johnson is a HOFer now. He should be able to get a job at one of the networks, like all the other HOFers who sit around Sunday morning and do nothing. The Lions need guys that can help get the shipped pointed in the right direction. If Calvin Johnson has something he wants to contribute to the team, I’m all for it. But if he’s looking for something from the team, then just go away. The Lions are tired of losing.

  3. Not Megatron’s fault that team has sucked since the beginning of time. The Lions need to eat the 1.3 and bring him back into the fold.

  4. flaccotoboldin says:
    February 7, 2021 at 10:39 am
    I’m on the fence on this one.

    Most teams don’t ask for repayment. But that doesn’t mean they can’t obviously, or shouldn’t.

    The question is – should the Lions have done that with Calvin Johnson?

    I’d be interested to see how many years into that extension he called it quits, along with what their cap situation was.
    ———————————————————————————————
    The Lions could have made Johnson pay $3.2M back but instead it only asked for the $1M he paid. They did it because of a salary cap issue . The Lions paid him $113M during his career giving him the biggest contract in NFL history at that time , an 8yr contract worth $132M if he didn’t retire . The Lions treated Johnson extremely well money wise and for him to whine about giving back a $1M which they only did to help their cap situation when they could have demanded $2M more is ridiculous and petty .

  5. If he has to work for the Lions to pay him back, then that is not paying him back. They should give him the money back. Period. It is shocking to me when I hear people say they think Lions should have taken the money. If your job gives you a bonus and then asks you to pay a portion of it back, there is no one on this earth that wouldn’t be upset about it. And anyone who says they wouldn’t is lying. A bonus is defined as payment for work done. Period. A LOAN is something you have to pay back. That was a bonus. And Calvin Johnson indeed worked for it, the very same season! He appreciated it and showed on the field. That season he broke Jerry Rice’s record. And, this is not the first time this happened, the Lions have experienced this before and from what I understand, it was public and there was litigation involved. From that very moment, that was a valuable lesson to be learned and they should have structured their contracts better going forward so that it wouldn’t happen again. But, no, they didn’t, and here we are. It’s business? Yes. Bad business. And the Lions will NEVER win, figuratively and literally conducting their business in that manner. Period.

  6. There is likely more to the story on the break up. Good on both parties coming back together and moving forward.

  7. glitznshytzlastyle says:
    Not Megatron’s fault that team has sucked since the beginning of time. The Lions need to eat the 1.3 and bring him back into the fold.
    ==

    Whether the Lions were good or bad, or whether Calvin Johnson was great on the field is irrelevant in this scenario.
    The Detroit Lions are a business. Johnson was an employee who could have gone elsewhere when his contract was up, yet willingly chose to re-sign with the Lions in a deal that included a huge signing bonus. That’s on him.
    Shortly after, when the Lions continued to be what Johnson already KNEW them to be when he re-upped, he threw a hissy fit and quit, followed by years of whining and badmouthing the team for taking back over a million dollars he made zero attempt to earn and was not contractually entitled to keep.
    Someone will no doubt responds with the tired “all he did for them” cliché, a ridiculous line often parroted when people discuss sports stars. What did he do for them? Did he mow the practice fields on his own time, tutor the coaches’ kids in math, and prepare the Fords’ taxes for free?
    Johnson was a football player — an extremely good one, but still just an employee whom the Lions made the highest-paid receiver in the game at the time he quit on them. He didn’t do anything for the team he wasn’t very highly compensated for each and every single time he stepped on a football field.
    Johnson is now a well-deserved Hall of Famer, and I congratulate him for it. But if he wants “back in the fold” it’s up to him to do something about it, because he’s the one that created the rift. The Lions owe him nothing.

  8. It went under the radar but last week Suh had some very complimentary things to say about the city of Detroit and the team. I think most people probably thought they would read about Suh dissing the Lions when they opened the story about him having something to say to Goff about joining the Lions. Barry is back in the building. Speilman is quietly running things and getting a bunch of ex players together on the staff. Stafford took off to CA but almost all of the rest of the Lions Mount Rushmore are all back in the corner of the Lions. Adding the final piece is all that’s left. Time for Megatron to come home.

  9. It’s a known fact that sports contracts are paid based on what the player HAS DONE in past seasons. Not for what they haven’t produced yet.
    The Lions paid Johnson for his work up to the point they gave him that bonus. It was money he earned for work he had already done. How many times do we see teams cutting players just before they’re set to collect a bonus?
    I’m not going to paint Johnson as the bad guy on this one. He owed the Lions no obligation to help their salary cap. He sacrificed his body more than enough times to earn that bonus.
    The Lions are only sniffing his jock now that he’s in the HOF.

  10. The only coaching vacancy left on the new staff is Wide Receiver….I was initially thinking Randel El, once the SB is over…now I’m thinking Calvin if he wants it.

  11. The Lions should sue Calvin for damages done to their organizational reputation. No free agent considered Detroit after this debacle the Lions have sucked ever since.

  12. The fact that Beckham (who’s missed 2 full seasons) could catch his career stats in 3 years shows just how short Johnson’s HOF career was.

  13. mookie34 says:
    “No free agent considered Detroit after this debacle the Lions have sucked ever since.”

    = = = = =

    Sometimes that’s the kind of money owners have to think about spending or not spending. If paying $1M to an unearned player in order to lure free agents to come to the team, then that’s money well spent. Teams need to have foresight on things like this.

  14. The lions as an organization doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to its legends which is a shame overall. The biggest problem when it came to the Johnson situation wasn’t that the team took the money back but that the reasoning of why they took it back which was to blackmail him into not retiring. Legal or not thats going to make any player think twice about working for a team that believes they have control over you and couldn’t care less about your needs or health.

  15. If we judged Calvin by Matthew Stafford Haters standards: He finished only 4 seasons playing 16 games. He had only two seasons with over 90 catches. He never won a playoff game. He back stabbed the team in the press. Most would say he’s a stat padder but not a winner.

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