The Detroit Lions have been insistent they’ve made good-faith efforts to repair the fractured relationship with longtime wide receiver Calvin Johnson before Johnson’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend. Now the details of the offer made by the Lions to Johnson are public.
From the report via Dave Birkett of the Free Press,
The documents, which were reviewed by the Free Press, detailed a three-year agreement that would pay Johnson $500,000 annually for appearance fees and have the Lions make a one-time payment of $100,000 to Johnson’s charity.
In Year 1 of the deal, Johnson would have been obligated to commit 28 hours to various Lions events, including a five-hour appearance at a game this fall when the team planned to induct his No. 81 jersey in their Pride of the Lions.
Johnson remains upset with the Lions about the team forcing him to repay up to $1.6 million in signing bonus when he retired unexpectedly in 2016 with four years remaining on his record-setting contract extension. The exact amount Johnson was forced to repay has never been officially validated; the NFLPA’s documentation placed it at just $320,000, which is less than one game check for Johnson in his contract. This report from the Free Press puts the value at $1.6 million. The Lions could have legally asked for repayment of as much as $3.2 million based on the early retirement by Johnson.
Johnson and his agent, Bus Cook, refused the above offer. Birkett quoted the first-ballot HOFer on Friday,
Asked about the Lions’ offer during Hall-of-Fame festivities Friday, Johnson said, “I mean, it wasn’t what I paid back, put it like that.”
“So they’re not serious,” Johnson said. “That’s all.”
The door is not closed, according to Johnson, but he has been quite reluctant to let the Lions even knock at the door in the leadup to his historic induction in Canton. It’s difficult to see the Lions organization doing much more to try and right their wrong with Johnson.