Calvin Johnson Invited to Lions Training Camp After Critical Comments on Team

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2017

In this Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015 photo, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) warms ups before an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers at Ford Field in Detroit. Johnson says NFL players could get painkillers like they were
Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

Detroit Lions owner Ron Wood said Monday that the team has invited former wide receiver Calvin Johnson to training camp this year despite his critical comments about the franchise.

Wood made the comments during an appearance on WJR 760, per Tim Twentyman of the Lions' official website. He did not say whether Johnson plans to accept the invite.

A six-time Pro Bowler and the greatest receiver in Lions history, Johnson retired after the 2015 season. While he maintained for more than a year he was leaving football due to injury concerns, Johnson admitted earlier this month his frustration with the Lions' losing ways played a factor. 

"Of course, I thought about it," Johnson said in Italy, per ESPN.com. "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."

Johnson was also frustrated by the Lions forcing him to repay part of his signing bonus upon his retirement. 

"I don't even like to talk Lions too much just because the way our relationship ended," Johnson told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press when asked if he could see his jersey being retired. "If they see me around here, we'll see. But hey, I don't know.

"I just didn't feel like I was treated the way I should have been treated 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."

The Lions forced Johnson to pay back at least $1 million of his signing bonus, per ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein, which they were not required to do. The franchise took a similar approach with Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, who harbored resentment toward the Lions for years after they took him to court over bonuses after his retirement.