Calvin Johnson denies claim Detroit Lions have reached out to him

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Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press
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The day before finalists are expected to be announced for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2021, the Detroit Lions and Calvin Johnson still aren’t on speaking terms.

The relationship between the team and the best receiver in its franchise history remains frosty since Johnson retired early after the 2015 season and then was asked to pay back a seven-figure portion of his $16 million signing bonus.

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“I would say nothing’s really changed,” team president Rod Wood said in a conference call Tuesday. “We’re very much supportive of Calvin’s candidacy for the Hall of Fame. Continue to try to reach out to him. But it’s going to require both of us to get together on that. It’s not just us. And I won’t really comment on that. But certainly, as I’ve said at the very beginning, that’s my goal.”

But in a text message to the Free Press, Johnson denied Wood’s claim of trying to contact him.

“Not that I’m looking for him to,” Johnson wrote, “but that’d be totally false if he asserted he reached out to me recently.”

Former Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson works with young players during the Calvin Johnson Jr. Foundation Catch a Dream football camp held at Southfield high school Saturday, May 20, 2017 in Southfield.
Former Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson works with young players during the Calvin Johnson Jr. Foundation Catch a Dream football camp held at Southfield high school Saturday, May 20, 2017 in Southfield.

Wood said in May 2019 that re-establishing a relationship with Johnson is “a very high priority.” The next month, Johnson told the Free Press at an annual camp he runs for high school students in metro Detroit that the money was the key sticking point.

“They already know what they got to do,” Johnson said then. “The only way they’re going to get me back is they put that money back in my pocket. Nah, you don’t do that. I don’t care what they say. They can put it back, then they can have me back. That’s the bottom line.”

The Hall of Fame’s class of 2021 will be determined and announced later this month.

Contact Carlos Monarrez at cmonarrez@freepress.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Calvin Johnson refutes Detroit Lions' claim team reached out to him