You know it’s the offseason when there’s yet another story about Calvin Johnson voicing his displeasure about the Detroit Lions.
This time the wide receiver joined the Behind The Mask podcast, featuring former NFL players Takeo Spikes and Tutan Reyes, and talked about nearly every grievance he had with the organization.
Recorded back in November, Johnson reiterated former points he had made, like Detroit’s attempt to cover up his concussion and subsequent nerve damage (as he first revealed in a Sports Illustrated interview last year), and their reclaiming of his signing bonus following his retirement.
But Johnson also noted this time around that he discovered after retiring that the Lions were especially poor at handling their players. Johnson notably visited the Dolphins and Raiders camps after retirement, still hoping to give back to the game, and when he saw how those organizations were being run, he was shocked.
“I’m like, ‘Whoa, this is how you should take care of your players,’” Johnson said. “I go to Miami, ain’t like Miami is winning or anything, but they’re taking care of their players. They’re giving it back to their players. I go to different teams like Oakland, I see the things they have for their players, I’m like, ‘Damn, we don’t have none of this in Detroit.’”
When asked to give an example of something the Lions organization was missing, Johnson pointed to the franchise’s lack of a nutritionist for the players’ good.
“This is a billion dollar organization, these guys are making a whole lot of money, why are you not helping these guys put the right stuff in their bodies?” Johnson asked. “They’re just coming out of college, they may not be nutritionists. So why are you not doing everything in your power to make sure you get the best product, the best things out of your players? I see that in other organizations. Not to say the Lions aren’t doing some things, but they’re not doing everything, and if you’re a billion-dollar organization and you can certainly get much more if you win, why wouldn’t you do that?”
It’s worth noting here that Lions general manager Bob Quinn hired a team dietitian in 2016 (coincidentally the same year Johnson retired), as one of many sweeping changes he’s made within the organization. Now the Lions have a full-time Director of Performance Nutrition on staff.
Ultimately, Johnson pointed the finger at ownership and their cost-cutting methods.
“They run the Ford company, that’s probably their first priority,” Johnson said. “They’re about saving dollars, so they take the same mindset to (the Lions), but there’s people involved here, so if you want to get the best out of those people, you’ve got to love on them a little bit.”
Despite the Lions’ insistence that they want to mend fences with their former star receiver, Johnson doesn’t foresee him reconnecting with the franchise, and he’s fine with that at this point in his life, saying he’s washed his hands of the situation.
“I don’t foresee them coming back and paying me back ever,” Johnson said. “At the end of the day, I don’t care. I did my thing, I left my mark, I did my thing, and I was happy with the way I handled myself throughout the process.”
You can watch the entire interview here: