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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Articles tagged: Calvin Johnson

Calvin Johnson says Lions once made him change story about suffering concussion

Calvin Johnson sad

Calvin Johnson has openly criticized the Detroit Lions on more than one occasion since he made the shocking decision to retire from the NFL at age 30 three years ago, but the latest revelation he made about his time with the franchise may be the most damning.

In a lengthy interview with Michael Rosenberg of The MMQB, Johnson criticized NFL teams for only caring about their “product” and not the welfare of players. He spoke about the rampant opioid abuse across the league, and he also recalled a time when he suffered a concussion and the Lions made him lie about it.

Johnson said he suffered so many concussions playing football that he got used to them and could recognize the signs, which included “seeing stars” and having impaired vision. He says he sustained one in a game against the Minnesota Vikings back in 2012, but the Lions were unhappy that he spoke about it publicly.

“I knew I was concussed because I blacked out. I wasn’t seeing straight,” Johnson said. “And they wanted me to change my story.”

Johnson sat out six offensive plays in the 2012 game after taking a big hit from then-Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway. He returned the next offensive series. Johnson confirmed after the game that he had suffered a concussion and said he also suffered nerve damage and was having trouble gripping a football. The Lions released a statement saying neither assessment was accurate.

“In response to the various reports (Thursday) regarding Calvin Johnson and injuries, we reiterate that Calvin did not suffer a concussion at any time this season,” the team said at the time. “With respect to the Minnesota game on Sept. 30, Calvin sustained a hit that resulted in him being removed from the game and evaluated pursuant to the appropriate concussion protocol by our team doctors.

“He also was subsequently examined the following day and was found to have no concussion. Additionally, Calvin did not suffer any nerve damage. He sustained what is referred to as a stinger Sept. 30 and was able to finish the game.”

Johnson initially declined comment when reporters sought clarification, but he later released a statement of his own through the team.

“I would like to clarify some of my comments from yesterday. I am aware that I did not suffer a concussion in our game against the Vikings earlier this year,” the statement read. “I misused the terms ‘nerve damage’ and ‘concussion.’ I have not suffered any nerve damage nor have I received any treatment for nerve damage. I did suffer a stringer in the game against Minnesota and also have experienced the kind of wear and tear that most NFL players are dealing with at this point in the season.”

The statement read like it was given from someone who was called to the principal’s office, and Johnson said that’s basically what happened. He said he played through concussions many times because that’s what you have to do to earn “Employee of the Month,” as Rosenberg termed it.

Johnson has had a very public dispute with the Lions over his signing bonus, but it’s clear the hostility he feels toward the organization has to do with more than just money. If the Lions forced him to cover up a concussion to make themselves look better, you can understand why he’d be bitter about that.

Calvin Johnson rips Lions again over signing bonus

Calvin Johnson sad

Calvin Johnson made well over $100 million during his nine seasons playing in the NFL, but the former Pro Bowler is a man of principle. And until the Detroit Lions pay him the remainder of his signing bonus, he doesn’t want anything to do with the team.

Johnson said earlier this month that he is only going to reconcile with the Lions if they “put that money back in my pocket.” The money he is referring to is the portion of his signing bonus from his 2012 contract that the team forced him to pay back after he retired. Johnson shared more of his thoughts on the situation in an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio this week.

While the exact amount that Johnson paid back has not been disclosed, it is believed to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million. The contract he signed with the Lions in 2012 included a $16 million signing bonus, and that money is prorated over the course of the deal. When he retired before playing out the eight-year contract, the Lions forced Megatron to pay some money back.

Johnson will likely reconcile with the Lions eventually the same way Brett Favre did with the Green Bay Packers, but it doesn’t sound like he is going to back down. We highly doubt he needs the extra $1 million, so he clearly just feels the organization is in the wrong after all he accomplished on the field.

Report: Teams have asked Lions about acquiring rights to Calvin Johnson

Calvin Johnson finger

A couple NFL teams are dreaming big and hoping former All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson wants a return to the league.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, two teams have reached out to the Detroit Lions about trading for Johnson’s rights in the last week, with the NFL trade deadline looming on Tuesday. The Lions, however, have not been particularly interested in such a deal.

Even if the Lions agreed to a Johnson trade, the team acquiring him would have to convince the 32-year-old to come out of retirement, and it is reportedly doubtful that they would be able to do so.

NFL teams trying to talk Johnson out of retirement is nothing new, nor is his reluctance to entertain those overtures. While the Lions’ losing did weigh on him, injuries and the game’s physical toll were also significant factors in him walking away, and that will not have changed.

Report: NFL teams trying to get Calvin Johnson to end retirement

Calvin Johnson sad

Calvin Johnson may be retired, but that hasn’t stopped NFL teams from seeing whether he’s open to a comeback.

Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman says multiple NFL teams have reached out to Megatron to see whether he’d be open to a return. Johnson has declined so far.

Johnson retired after the 2015 season and missed last year. He is set to turn 32 in September and was still a top player when he walked away from the game, so he would probably be a difference-maker if he were to return to the league. That’s why it’s understandable that many teams have reached out to him. But apparently he still feels comfortable with his decision to retire.

Another issue is that the Detroit Lions, who drafted Johnson in 2007, still hold the wide receiver’s rights. If Megatron did want to return to the league, Detroit would have to agree to trade him in a deal similar to what the Raiders and Seahawks worked out for Marshawn Lynch.

Megatron did admit that the Lions’ losing weighed on him, so it’s possible that the opportunity to win a Super Bowl could tempt him. We’re just guessing that based on his friction with the club, he wouldn’t want to return to the Lions if he did come back.

Lions team president invited Calvin Johnson to camp

Calvin Johnson finger
Calvin Johnson was indisputably the most dominant wide receiver in the NFL for a time. When he retired in 2015, having not even turned 30, it was a shock for Lions fans.

Johnson recently admitted the Lions’ struggles were a factor in his retirement decision. He was locked into his contract and they wouldn’t let him out of it, so Johnson couldn’t go anywhere else.

On the heels of those comments, the Lions’ team president, Rod Wood, told WJR Radio Monday that he invited Johnson to the Lions’ camp next month in Allen Park, Mich.

“I did invite him out to training camp,” Wood said. “We’ll see if he does that. Hopefully he shows up and he’s a great player. We want to have him in the tent and not outside the tent.”

Wood called Johnson’s recent comments “a little disappointing,” but he said they’re still trying to work things out with the former stud wideout — a sentiment coach Jim Caldwell stated in March. I mean, who wouldn’t want Megatron — even an old Megatron — on their team?

Johnson is a Detroit legend. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

Though he clearly wanted out of his contract, Johnson has pointed to physical ailments as the primary driver of his retirement. He’s beat up from his career, and even if the Lions can mend the wounds of the relationship, it would be a shock if he made a return to the NFL.

Calvin Johnson admits Lions’ losing was factor in retirement decision

Calvin Johnson sad

Calvin Johnson was always one of the NFL’s quieter superstars, but having been retired for over a year, the former wide receiver is opening up on his decision.

Johnson, visiting Italy for Italian Bowl XXXVII last week, told media that the Detroit Lions’ lack of Super Bowl contention was a factor in his decision to retire at age 30.

“I mean, I thought about [changing teams],” Johnson said, via the Detroit News. “Just like in basketball, you know, guys, they create these superteams. But it’s not quite like that in football where I had the freedom just to go.

“I was stuck in my contract with Detroit, and they told me, they would not release my contract, so I would have to come back to them. I didn’t see the chance for them to win a Super Bowl at the time, and for the work I was putting in, it wasn’t worth my time to keep on beating my head against the wall … and not going anywhere. It’s the definition of insanity.”

When asked to clarify if that was why he retired, Johnson confirmed it.

“Yep, and the body,” Johnson said. “That’s everybody’s goal, when they come to the league, is to win a Super Bowl. That’s the ultimate goal. … I wanted to win it, and like I said, I just didn’t see that opportunity (with the Lions).”

Johnson had always cited wear and tear on his body as the primary reason he retired, but he had alluded to Detroit’s losing in the past as an underlying reason. It sounds like it was a bigger one than he let on.

Jim Caldwell confident Lions, Calvin Johnson will mend relationship

Calvin Johnson sad

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell is confident that the franchise will be able to mend its relationship with retired wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

Over the weekend, Johnson made some noise about being unhappy with the way his tenure with the Lions ended after the 2015 season. There is speculation that Megatron was upset the Lions asked him to repay $320,000 of his signing bonus upon retiring.

Caldwell wants the sides to repair things and thinks that will happen.

“Playing in the National Football League for a team, it’s like a family. Families sometimes have disagreements. But we get the differences worked out.” Caldwell said, via ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. “I think the same thing will happen in this situation. Maybe there’s a disagreement, a little different viewpoint, but the most important thing, I think, is perhaps this whole thing will bring about a little bit more dialogue.”

Barry Sanders had similar issues with the Lions when he retired from the league.

The whole thing makes you wonder why a franchise would risk ruining goodwill with star players over a little bit of money, especially when there are so many franchises that pay their icons just to be goodwill ambassadors for the team. Hopefully the Lions will reach out to their franchise leading receiver to try and make things right.