Lions unfazed by Calvin Johnson’s Hall of Fame diss

NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony
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As expected, Hall of Fame receiver Calvin Johnson didn’t thank the Lions organization during his induction speech. Before the event, Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp was asked about the likely diss.

We love Calvin, the organization loves Calvin, my family loves Calvin and we are hoping we can work this all out with him,” Hamp told Jennifer Hammond of Fox 2 in Detroit. “We think he’s terrific and we’re so excited for him.”

The Lions made Johnson the second overall pick in the 2007 draft. He became a rare bright spot on a team that struggled for relevance, going winless in his second season. In 2012, when Johnson generated a league-record 1,964 receiving yards, the Lions won only four games.

But Johnson signed a long-term big-money deal to stay in Detroit, and he never tried to force his way out. Indeed, most of his rancor seems to come not from anything that occurred during his career but from the franchise’s misguided decision to insist on the partial repayment of unearned signing bonus money at a time when it actually helped the Lions from a cap standpoint for Johnson to walk away. And then the Lions squatted on his rights, preventing him from continuing his truncated career with another team.

Johnson at all times has seemed like a fair and reasonable person. The fact that he’s so upset with the Lions suggests that the Lions did something to earn his ire. Given that he refused a job offer that would have paid him $500,000 per year for 28 hours of work shows how bad things are.

Johnson himself has said what it will take to make things right — the team needs to give back his money. The fact that the Lions haven’t done so more than five years after his retirement suggests that it’s not going to happen, and that the Lions will continue to be estranged from one of the greatest players in franchise history.

78 responses to “Lions unfazed by Calvin Johnson’s Hall of Fame diss

  1. I don’t agree with the lions, but at least they’re sticking to their guns. Unlike Jerry, who never would have apologized to Jimmy Johnson if jimmy didn’t make the hall of fame. He only did it for attention and to bring more focus on him and his team.

  2. At this point, I’m sure the Lions don’t care about giving his money back just so he can he can be a representative of the franchise. Not calling it right, but I’m sure they won’t be doing it

  3. An organization makes you Rich for Life, and you can’t even tell them Thank You. Entitled Much.

  4. A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I had respect for Calvin Johnson.

    No longer.

  5. Never tried to force his way out? He retired b/c they wouldn’t trade him when he privately requested it.

  6. From previous PFT reporting, Johnson needed to “some” work (appearances, etc), or the pay back of the $1.5M would be a salary cap violation.

    IMO, Johnson is the one being stubborn here.

  7. There is some validity to CJ’s bitterness but there comes a time where it’s better just to move on. There are worse examples in NFL history of players not being treated well by an organization than a guy who made tons of money in his career being forced to make a little less.

  8. Tone deaf!

    What she needed to say was something with even a glimmer of remorse on behalf of the Lions. Perhaps something like, “I, and the Lions, love Calvin. I’m personally very sorry for some of how the team treated Calvin and am committed to he receives the respect he deserves.”

  9. Repayment of any recovered unearned bonus money is not that easy as writing a check. A proposal to simply repay the unearned bonus money has to be reviewed and approved by the league to ensure it is not part of a ploy to evade salary cap rules.

  10. The way things went with Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson, combined with their record over the last 30 years, tells you all you need to know about how NOT to run an NFL franchise.

  11. The Lions have always been a joke and will continue to be one until they have a different ownership group.

  12. The Lions don’t need him….they should cancel the retirement of his number. In fact they should issue it to big fat slow run stoppers.

  13. Does Calvin need to thank the Lions? Absolutely not. Was Calvin allowed to stop playing for the Lions? Absolutely yes. His choice to do so was retirement. Where the Lions and fans can be disappointed with that decision, he did nothing wrong by doing that.

    That being said, wanting to be released from the Lions so he could play somewhere else, is not the same as retiring due to the physical wear and tear of the sport. That wear and tear would have continued with any other team. And, if Calvin was not willing to fulfill the terms of his contract, he did owe the team any money he received in advance for services not rendered.

    The Lions have tried to find a creative way to repay him the money – that would not violate any NFL Rules or violate the salary cap. Is it possible that there is more to this story than has been reported? Sure. But based on the information that is currently available, Calvin comes off as an entitled player who wanted to keep the money he didn’t earn, get out of a contract he signed, and play for another team. He can choose this path, but he can’t get upset at how others see his behavior.

  14. Hope they did something really cool with that1.6 mill. Losing one of the top players in the history of the franchise is quite a cost…

  15. OK, OK…. We ALL know the love affair is over…. Misery loves company so they STILL seem like a match made in heaven!!!
    They deserve each other…..

  16. The Detroit Lions need to move on from thinking/talking/negotiating with Calvin Johnson.

    Calvin Johnson is not going to help the future of the team win games on the field. That’s all that matters right now. They tried to right a wrong, it didn’t work. Move on.

    They have draft picks moving forward and some young talent.

    Forget about Megatron.

  17. Boo hoo. The Lions tried to make it work by throwing money at him to basically do nothing. Megadiva!

  18. Well, they literally just tried to give it back and he refused it.

    I love CJ- as a lifelong lions fan I am the first to critique them. Making him pay the bonus back was prob a bad move. But that regime is gone completely- new gm, coaches, president, and new principle owner. They have tried to make It right, he’s not interested. Not sure what also the lions can do.

  19. Honestly, I’m surprised that Calvin Johnson got voted into the hall of fame. Sure he was a good player but he never really won much of anything and retired early.

  20. Calvin tried to fake retire to force his way out of town. The Lions called his bluff. Nothing more to it than that.

  21. When was Calvin Johnson FORCED to sign a BIG money extension to stay with the Lions? He’s made millions playing for the Lions and knew first hand how terrible they were as an all around organization, yet he willingly and happily cashed all those checks. Another petty entitled athlete with hurt feelings. Now that your in the HOF, please go away and shut up your not relevant anymore.

  22. bostonblows says:
    August 9, 2021 at 10:19 am
    The Detroit Lions need to move on from thinking/talking/negotiating with Calvin Johnson.

    Calvin Johnson is not going to help the future of the team win games on the field. That’s all that matters right now. They tried to right a wrong, it didn’t work. Move on.

    They have draft picks moving forward and some young talent.

    Forget about Megatron.
    ____________________

    Not that the Lions have any players that are this good, but if in the future they have a player at the top of his position and is coming up for a contract, it would be hard for that player to ignore the way the Lions handled the two best players ever to come through (Sanders and Johnson).

  23. Even though the offer from the Lions seemed fair, I see where Calvin Johnson is coming from.

    They took that money from him years ago, and now they want him to represent them, shake hands with people, pretend that everything is okay…. just to get back the money they took from him?

  24. pftancelledme says:
    August 9, 2021 at 9:54 am
    An organization makes you Rich for Life, and you can’t even tell them Thank You. Entitled Much.
    __________________

    You have that backwards…No one pays money to watch Jerry Jones, Virginia McCaskey or anyone in the Ford family for that matter play football. We all pay money to watch players like Calvin Johnson play at high levels. The players make the owners rich!

  25. kcisyourdaddy says:
    August 9, 2021 at 10:28 am
    Honestly, I’m surprised that Calvin Johnson got voted into the hall of fame. Sure he was a good player but he never really won much of anything and retired early

    —-

    CJ was one of, if not THE most dominate players at his position in NFL history.

    If you can pick from any WR in history to be your #1- CJ is absolutely in the conversation of maybe 4 orn5 other guys.

    If that’s not a hall of famer, not sure what is

  26. First unless my memory is clouded in old age, I swear he was demanding a trade. He didnt want to wallow in the losing throngs of the Lions org. He wanted to go to a playoff/superbowl contender and they refused to oblige him.
    He got angry and said, ok I’m retiring and they said fine, you must pay back the big bonus we gave you since you didnt wont be playing this year to earn it.
    Ya he is angry over having to turn the money over but he is more angry at not be unloaded and free

  27. pftancelledme says:
    August 9, 2021 at 9:54 am
    An organization makes you Rich for Life, and you can’t even tell them Thank You. Entitled Much.

    This has more to do with wasting his career on false promises, I am sure when he was signing extentions they were painting pretty pictures that never materialized. these guys are paid professionals but what made them great is their competitiveness, Losing year after year breaks a man.

  28. I think a lot of people are overlooking the fact that Calvin Johnson wanted to win. He played his heart out and through injuries, but didn’t have a chance to win on the Lions. They probably made promises to him every year that they would turn it around but never did. All those record-breaking 1,964 receiving yards added up to 4 wins. So when he realized he was in the twilight of his career, he wanted a chance to play on a team where his contributions would make a difference, but the Lions shut the door on that conversation.

    He chose to retire rather than continue playing for a losing team. Then the Lions, in a petty accounting move, made him pay back 1.6 million from his signing bonus. Even worse, the Lions blocked him from joining any other team by squatting on his rights. They wouldn’t let him go. He probably felt trapped and helpless at the end. And that experience probably made him very bitter when it comes to the organization.

  29. Calvin Johnson should have been voted into the Hall of Very good.

    The Hall of Fame is getting watered down every year by electing very good players who are NOT historic, generational or game-changing.

    Jerry Rice and Randy Moss are HOF-worthy. Guys who are very good but just pretty much accumulated stats are not.

  30. Not unique to Calvin. Barry Sanders also estranged from the organization. The Loins just do not know how to treat the great players.

  31. Its possible that both Barry and Calvin were just huge babies who willingly signed extensions with the Lions that made them rich. They could have forced trades earlier in their careers before they eventually pouted and went home.

  32. I loved Calvin Johnson as a player — who didn’t? But I don’t understand his ire toward the Lions at all.
    PFT points out that the Lions asked him to pay back money he did not earn, so I ask — what is wrong with that?
    And then PFT points out that the Lions didn’t allow him to walk away and go play with someone else, which was his real motive for “retiring”. Again I ask, what is wrong with that?
    Everyone — owners, coaches, players, and media types tell us all the time that sports — and the NFL — is a business. So — the Lions are entitled to run their business as they see fit, no matter who likes it or dislikes it.
    I only wish the fans would get the support from the media that they give to players. Owners stuck it to the fans with seat licensing fees and hardly anyone in the media criticized them for it. It caused many long time fans of teams to lose their season tickets, or have to pay ridiculously high seat license fees — on top of the cost of the tickets!!!!. To me, that was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen owners in any sport do, but because it was to the fans, it barely got noticed.
    Calvin Johnson is a fine man and deserves to be in the Hall Of Fame, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s his fault he had to pay the Lions back the money he didn’t earn.

  33. MegaMillions can go cry somewhere else. Most of his yards and scores were in garbage time anyways. 0 playoff wins and he wants more money?

  34. the two best players ever to come through (Sanders and Johnson).

    ——

    Suh was better than Calvin.

  35. jojomogir says:
    August 9, 2021 at 10:09 am
    The way things went with Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson, combined with their record over the last 30 years, tells you all you need to know about how NOT to run an NFL franchise.
    —————————————————————————————————-
    Yet Calvin had no problem signing an extension with the Lions that made him the league’s highest paid wide receiver.

  36. billionaires and millionaires fighting over money.

    Let me see if I can bring this to the real world where most of us live based on some simple google searches.

    The Detroit Lions franchise is worth 2.1 billion dollars (how, I have no idea)
    The signing bonus they chose not to return is 1.6 million
    That is .0007619% of their net worth

    If you or I had a net worth of 100,000 – that would be the equivalent of $76.19

    Let’s go on annual income –
    The Detroit Lions franchise had an operating income of 43 million dollars in 2019.
    1.6 million is 3.5% of that operating income
    3.5% of 45 million is $1.575 million dollars (so the return of the signing bonus is basically equivalent to 3.5% of their annual operating income)

    If you or I had an annual income of 100,000 – that would be $3,500

    OK – other side:

    Calvin Johnson has an estimated net worth of 45 million dollars (who knows if that is entirely accurate)
    1.6 million is 3.5% of 45 million.

    (See above – that would be like $3500 to you or I if our net worth was $100,000)

    No info on CJ’s annual income.

    So, obviously, the 1.6 million is more of a percentage of CJ’s net worth and income. Keeping the Lions net worth in view – pay the man.

  37. pftancelledme says:
    August 9, 2021 at 9:54 am
    An organization makes you Rich for Life, and you can’t even tell them Thank You. Entitled Much.

    —————————

    You provide exceptional service to an organization, an organization which prints money, and they pay you your worth. Crazy concept, huh?

    It’s not like the organization just gifted him his salary for nothing.

  38. bweb85 says:
    August 9, 2021 at 11:14 am
    pftancelledme says:
    August 9, 2021 at 9:54 am
    An organization makes you Rich for Life, and you can’t even tell them Thank You. Entitled Much.
    __________________

    You have that backwards…No one pays money to watch Jerry Jones, Virginia McCaskey or anyone in the Ford family for that matter play football. We all pay money to watch players like Calvin Johnson play at high levels. The players make the owners rich!

    __________________

    That is false. There isn’t single owner in the NFL that wasn’t rich before they’re involvement in the NFL.

  39. mochajoe says:
    I think a lot of people are overlooking the fact that Calvin Johnson wanted to win. He played his heart out and through injuries, but didn’t have a chance to win on the Lions.
    ==

    Too many people these days seem unwilling or unable to distinguish between what they WANT and what they’re ENTITLED to.
    So what if Calvin Johnson wanted to win? Most players do. Worked hard and played through injuries? A great many players do. It’s what their paid millions of dollars to do.
    You can’t help where you’re drafted. But Johnson knew as well as anyone what the Detroit organization was all about, yet when the chance to leave came he CHOSE to re-sign. Why? For big money. That’s on him.
    If Johnson decided he’d made a mistake and asked for a trade, that’s understandable and he had a right to ask. But when the Lions exercised their right to say no he had two moral choices: Live up to the deal he signed, or retire.
    Instead, Johnson tried to force a trade. When that failed he walked away, which again was his right. But he has no leg to stand on when it comes to his incessant whining and playing the victim because the Lions went after a sum of money he was paid in advance, in good faith, but made no attempt whatsoever to earn.
    Detroit recently tried to find an easy way to basically give back most of the money without him doing much of anything, but once again he stomped his feet, held his breath and said no.
    Are the Lions an inept organization? The last six decades of evidence points to a resounding yes! But Johnson knew that when he re-signed. He’s the one responsible for his circumstances, yet he stubbornly spends all his time sniveling about the consequences of a situation HE created.
    Get over it, snowflake.

  40. Calvin Johnson was a hall of famer despite playing for the Lions. If he had played for a decent organization, he might be considered the greatest to ever play the game. They owe him gratitude, not the other way around.

  41. Calvin signed a contract that would allow the Lions to recoup any bonus money he was paid. If he didn’t like the way the contract was structured, he shouldn’t have signed it.

  42. They’ve had two elite players in the last 30 years and both retired early rather than stay there… That says a lot…

  43. tinye67 says:
    August 9, 2021 at 11:51 am
    Calvin Johnson should have been voted into the Hall of Very good.

    The Hall of Fame is getting watered down every year by electing very good players who are NOT historic, generational or game-changing.

    Jerry Rice and Randy Moss are HOF-worthy. Guys who are very good but just pretty much accumulated stats are not

    I legit legit wonder when I see comments like this if the people making them watched CJ play.

  44. There are so many reasons why the Detroit Lions can’t keep good players and can’t win playoff games. THeir treatment of Johnson is but one. I mean, when a player who only played for one team doesn’t even mention that team when inducted into the HOF…well…Let’s not forget that Barry Sanders walked away in his prime, too.

  45. The Lions are trying to change into a winning organization. Forget the losing past. Look ahead to brighter days. Calvin Johnson is just a reminder of the losing past. The Lions better change, or the next guys won’t stick around for their entire careers.

  46. Don’t contracts actually mean anything? He wanted to be paid money for a season he didn’t play. They said “no.”

  47. It’s a rule that a team cannot make that kind of payment after retirement so that teams don’t make contracts that would give a player money after retirement to stay under the salary cap. The Lions offer to Calvin was within the rules and the only way they could do it legally.

  48. Petty response from a petty team.

    Ruined the careers of two Hall of Famers, Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson. I’m surprised the NFLPA doesn’t issue a warning to their members to avoid going there.

  49. I don’t understand those that are questioning Megatron’s talent.
    He was on such bad football teams that it is amazing that he accumulated the numbers that he got.
    This guy was a generational talent, one of the top 5 receivers in NFL History.

    You try working for a dumpster fire organization for a decade and see what it does to you. Now just think of you being one of the best ever in your line of work and then see what working for ten years for a dumpster fire organization does to you.

    To me Calvin Johnson was incredibly gracious.

  50. Nobody cares about the Lions. All anyone cares about is when Lamar Jackson is going to get vaccinated?

  51. bfindeisen says:
    August 9, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    bweb85 says:
    August 9, 2021 at 11:14 am
    pftancelledme says:
    August 9, 2021 at 9:54 am
    An organization makes you Rich for Life, and you can’t even tell them Thank You. Entitled Much.
    __________________

    You have that backwards…No one pays money to watch Jerry Jones, Virginia McCaskey or anyone in the Ford family for that matter play football. We all pay money to watch players like Calvin Johnson play at high levels. The players make the owners rich!

    __________________

    That is false. There isn’t single owner in the NFL that wasn’t rich before they’re involvement in the NFL.

    __________________

    And how did they get rich before their involvement in the NFL? By inheriting their wealth from daddy and/or exploiting wage workers as the head of a corporation. They didn’t create that wealth, the workers did. The same as they don’t create the wealth they reap in the NFL, the players do. Stop licking the owner’s boots–they will never love you back.

  52. Watching the HOF ceremonies, I realized, as much football as I have watched in my life, Megatron is one of the legit superstars (now HOF’er) who I don’t remember seeing play all that often. The price of a great player, toiling away for a lackluster franchise. Sad that both he and Barry Sanders left the organization with such acrimony. I’m a Bills fan, so I know losing too…hopefully Lions ownership gets their act together…Lions fans deserve better than this.

  53. I’m no expert on the Lions, but Calvin never struck me as a diva and for those complaining about his salary, why don’t you consider how much value he added to the franchise by being the only attraction in town for many years. That’s a great part of NFL fandom- the casual and common contempt for players who risk their longterm health to produce America’s highest-rated television product.

  54. I watched his interview. He said his legs just weren’t there when he retired. As reported here, he could have showed up for camp and gone on IR for the injury and kept the money.
    Bad advice from his agent? Who knows. But he could have been in the building, not played and kept the cash. End of story.

  55. Calvin Johnson, Barry Sanders … This list goes on.

    2 great players that never got a chance to play on a upper echelon team and left the game pissed at the organization.

  56. According to Forbes the Detroit Lions are worth $2.6 billion dollars. They wanted $1.6 million back from arguably the second greatest player in the history of their franchise. All b/c he decided to abruptly retire in the back end of his prime. The damage is likely done and they seemed to have dug in a little deeper during his HoF induction. Classic Detroit….

  57. Most teams, however, do not pursue signing bonus prorations when players of Johnson’s magnitude retire. Barry Sanders left the Lions on bad terms. Calvin Johnson has left on bad terms. The trend is that the Detroit Lions are not a decent organization in any. Most folks probably figured that out after and 0-16 season.

    But there is hope. The Lions may have finally learned from mishandling of Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson. They traded Matthew Stafford.

    I hope that the Detroit Lions just give Calvin Johnson back the money. Why? As a lions fan someday it would be nice to have Calvin Johnson back at Ford Field. His name could be put in the ring of honor. His number hopefully, retired. It would have been nice if the two sides could have come together before Johnson’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame so that the Lions could celebrate their star and Johnson could be honored at a Lions home game in the 2021 season.

    But this is the Detriot Lions we are talking about.

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