The Detroit Lions haven’t made any headway in trying to mend their relationship with Calvin Johnson, according to team president Rod Wood. The two sides haven’t talked directly “in a little bit.”
However, Wood is trying to fix that. He called getting back into good graces with Johnson a “high priority” and made it sound like it’s something he plans on working towards very soon.
“I had it on my agenda today to talk internally about some things to re-approach him about getting back involved (with the team),” Wood said during the Taste of the Lions event on Wednesday. “That’s on the agenda this year, reaching out to him.”
Johnson appears to still be disgruntled about the way the Lions handled his retirement. Oneking point was Detroit asking to recoup a portion—at least $1 million—of his signing bonus. He told the Detroit Free Press in May of 2017 that he didn’t feel like the organization treated him right on the way out. He did attend a Lions game last year, but hasn’t had any other sort of public interaction with the organization since his retirement in 2016.
Wood is not only hoping to mend fences, but he’s hoping Johnson eventually becomes an ambassador for the team, much like Hall of Famer Barry Sanders has become.
“I want to try and find a way to do something similar to what we’ve been doing with Barry, if Calvin would be interested,” Wood said. “That’s on my agenda to get to him and talk about it.”
While Wood didn’t provide a timeline as to how he would approach Johnson, he does have one goal in mind: celebrating his eventual Hall of Fame induction together.
“I hope, and I would expect, that within a couple of years he’ll be considered for the Hall of Fame, and I really want to have a relationship at that point that is productive for both sides,” Wood said. “We can be there celebrating with him, and we can find ways to have him here and celebrate as well.”
Johnson becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2021.