Former Georgia Tech and Detroit Lions great Calvin Johnson is content in his retirement — running youth camps and refurbishing houses in inner-city Detroit, but he won't return to any Lions' events anytime soon.
As the Detroit Free Press reported, Johnson still harbors a resentment toward his former NFL team over the way he was treated after his retirement in 2016.
"I don't even like to talk to the Lions much because of the way our relationship ended," Johnson told the Detroit Free Press. "If they see me around here, we'll see. But hey, I don't know.
"I didn't feel like I was treated the way I should have on the way out. That's all, I mean, it's all good. I'm not tripping. I don't feel any kind of way, just hey, that's what they did. Hey, it is what it is."
Johnson has plenty of reason to be perturbed. After representing the Lions (who were consistently an NFL bottom-feeder during his time with the team) as one of the league's biggest stars, the Detroit brass didn't exactly work out plans for a statue when Johnson called it quits.
Instead, the Lions asked the wide receiver to pay back part of the $16 million signing bonus he made as part of his 2012 contract. It was reported Johnson paid them $320,000 which might not sound like much, but it's the principle.
This is a franchise worth upwards of $1.2 billion according to Forbes. Johnson gave them nine mega-productive seasons where he surpassed 1,000 yards in seven different years. He holds the NFL record for most yards in a single season with 1,964. Other than Barry Sanders, can you think of another Lions' player who did more for that franchise, even during the toughest times?
In a NFL landscape dominated by diva wide receivers, Johnson was the exception. All he ever did was come to work, suit up and dominate on Sundays. In his nine seasons in Detroit the former Jackets' standout reached just two playoff games — both Wildcard losses.
The big man's dedication and work ethic while he was in the Motor City shouldn't be overlooked. So why the hell did the front office care about $320,000 and seemingly ruin a relationship with one of the greatest pass catchers of all time?
Sometimes it feels as if the Lions just don't know the right way to act. Other teams build statues and maintain close bonds with their best retired players, while the Lions just butcher relationships without thinking twice. They did the same thing with Sanders back in 1999 and will probably take a similar route with their future stars.
I can't blame Johnson one bit. He should feel some type of way.