Calvin Johnson opens up in interview: 'I wouldn't necessarily say I cheer for the Lions'

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Posted at 12:30 PM, Sep 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-20 12:30:24-04

(WXYZ) — Detroit Lions legend Calvin Johnson is opening up about his time in Detroit and his contentious relationship with the team afterwards in a new interview for Sports Illustrated.

Titled, "Calvin Johnson doesn't regret a thing," the interview with Michael Rosenberg touches on his career with the Lions, the team asking him to pay back his signing bonus, injuries during his time and more.

Since he retired in 2016, the team asked him to repay part of his signing bonus, saying them asking for the money back "wasn't no killer," but "at the end of the day, you don't do that to your best players.

"I don't care. I really don't," he said about getting the money back. "If they do, great, I put some more money in my pocket. But either way, I'm not trippin'."

Johnson said he won't have anything to do with the team unless he gets his money back, but he did tell Matt Patricia he would work with the team's receivers, just not at the practice facility.

He also opened up about the team's 0-16 season, telling a story with a quote from then-QB Jon Kitna.

“He left the meeting room one day, and he told the coaches and the whole team that we’re not gonna win a game if we go into the season with [this] system. Somebody should have listened. Because we were 0–16 after that," he told SI. He said plenty of guys didn't know if they wanted to play football after that.

Next season, the team hired Shawn Jefferson as the WR coach, and Johnson said he was the best receivers coach in the league. It's also the same year the he broke Jerry Rice's receiving record, but Jim Schwartz decided not to renew Jefferson's contract.

Johnson still has friends on the team, but said, "I wouldn't necessarily say I cheer for the Lions. I cheer for the players."

He told SI that he almost retired after his eighth season, but he loved Jim Caldwell and his dad told him he sounded unsure.

He said it's "a very strong possibility," that he would've played longer if the Lions won more. He and Barry Sanders both retired at age 30, and when asked by SI if it was a conincidence, he said, "not really."

To read his entire interview, click here.