The Lions and Hall of Fame wide receiver Calvin Johnson have had a strained relationship ever since he retired and the team forced him to pay back $1.6 million of his signing bonus. But Johnson is hinting that the relationship has been mended.
Johnson tweeted a picture of himself at Ford Field and wrote, “Back in the Lions Den.” Johnson also wrote on Instagram that he saw Ford Field from the stands for the first time on Sunday and might buy season tickets next year.
That Johnson paid a visit to the team suggests that they’ve come to some kind of understanding. The Lions had offered to make things even with him by paying him $500,000 a year for three years to do 28 hours of promotional work, plus a $100,000 donation to his favorite charity. But Johnson turned that offer down, saying that on principle the Lions never should have taken the money from him in the first place and he shouldn’t have to do anything — even work 28 hours a year — to get it back.
Contractually, the Lions had every right to take back a portion of Johnson’s signing bonus, but teams often waive that right for retiring players, especially for first-ballot Hall of Famers like Johnson. So it’s easy to see why Johnson was miffed.
But it now appears that there’s some kind of thaw in the relationship, at least enough to make Johnson comfortable spending time with the team again.