Newly elected Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Calvin Johnson said he has spoken with Detroit Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp numerous times in what he hopes is a step toward repairing a fractured relationship between himself and the franchise.
"I know that myself and Sheila Hamp, we’ve had some great conversations recently, and it’s been good to get to know her and just really have those face-to-face conversations," Johnson said Sunday in a Hall of Fame conference call. "So I think that we’re moving in the right direction."
Johnson and the Lions have been involved in a disagreement stemming from Johnson having to repay $1.6 million to the Lions after he called it a nine-year career after the 2015 season. That was part of the $16 million signing bonus that came with the seven-year, $113.45 million contract extension he signed in March 2012.
In January, Hamp acknowledged for the first time the discord between Johnson and her team. Hamp didn’t delve into the specifics of situation publicly, but said she was interested in mending it.
"I hope we can repair things with Calvin Johnson," Hamp told ESPN in January. "He was obviously an amazing player for us and we’re going to continue to reach out to him and hope that we can repair things because I think it’s important that he come back into the Lions family.
"...He was a great, great player and a terrific person and we would love to have him back with us and working with us and helping us with everything."
Johnson, who on Saturday became just the seventh first-ballot receiver to be elected to the Hall of Fame, was the face of the Lions during his time in Detroit. He made six Pro Bowls, was named a first-team All-Pro three times and was selected to the All-Decade first-team for the 2010s.
The Lions drafted him No. 2 overall in 2007 after his standout career at Georgia Tech.
Johnson, 35, lives in the Detroit suburbs with his family and works at Primitiv, a cannabis business he and former Lions offensive lineman Rob Sims started.
Johnson, who is the Lions’ all-time leader in receptions (731), receiving yards (11,619) and receiving touchdowns (83), praised the Lions’ fans on Saturday after learning he will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August in Canton, Ohio.
"To you guys, this is everything. You guys were everything to us," Johnson said about the fans. "You filled that stadium. You brought the energy each and every Sunday, even though, in my tenure there, we were 0-16 (in 2008), but you guys still believed in us, you all believed in the city and you all believe that we’re going to have a Super Bowl winner there at some point.
"I hope for you guys that it is sooner than later and I’ve loved living my whole adult life in Michigan. I’m still there and I love you guys and appreciate you guys for all the support and love that you guys have shown me from then until now. And Detroit, the city, is number one in my heart, for sure."
--Field Level Media