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Op-Ed: Ignore the money issue Calvin Johnson had with the Lions

Unless you’re living under a rock, you’re probably aware that Calvin Johnson is heading to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The former Detroit Lion received news of his induction this past Saturday night, making him the 7th wide receiver to earn the honor with the first ballot distinction.

In nine seasons with the Lions, he recorded 731 catches for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns. He holds the single-season record for receiving yards (1,964), most consecutive 100-yard receiving games (8), and second all-time in receiving yards per game (86.1).

Despite his accomplishments, Johnson’s induction has faced its fair share of criticism, especially on social media platforms. Oddly enough, most of that criticism came from Detroit Lions fans. Proof of this claim is by looking at Lions’ fan groups’ comments on Facebook or doing a quick Twitter search. To keep things honest, Johnson has far more supporters than detractors. Nevertheless, when Johnson began to speak out against the Lions’ organization as a whole, some fans began to sour on him because the rift between him and the Lions was over money.

After retiring from the Lions, Johnson had to repay this a little over $1 million from a signing bonus he received several seasons prior. When this happened, the man who is affectionately known as “Megatron” was not happy. He felt it was a slap in the face. After all of the sacrifices that he made for the team, repaying money was in bad taste. In his own words, it was about respect. It’s a sentiment that Johnson has made clear for several years, and tons of fans agree with him.

Then there’s the other segment of fans who side with the Lions. They feel that since Johnson did not fulfill his contract, he should not keep the bonus. Along with that, they make these illogical comparisons while blatantly choosing to ignore Johnson’s sentiments.

Luckily for everyone, the rift between Johnson and the Lions is on the verge of ending. Johnson spoke with the media a day after the announcement of his Hall of Fame induction. He said that things between him and the Lions are going in the right direction. This is after a series of face-to-face conversations he had with Lions’ owner Sheila Ford-Hamp.

Both sides are not at the finish of a resolution. However, it’s great to see that both sides are coming together before Johnson’s Hall of Fame ceremony. The Lions have repaired their strained relationship with Barry Sanders. They also ended terms with Matthew Stafford on a respectful note. Improving that relationship with Calvin Johnson was the last domino that needed to fall. Maybe now fans will stop trying to count the pockets of Johnson and the Lions. If both sides are working together in a positive many–––something Johnson said he didn’t see happening soon––then maybe fans can drop the issue of whether the Lions should repay him.

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