Ex-Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson to return for Ford Field ring ceremony this fall

Detroit Free Press

Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions remain at odds nearly six years after the Hall of Fame receiver played his last NFL game, but Johnson will return to the stadium he used to call home for an appearance this fall.

Johnson is scheduled to receive his Hall of Fame ring in a ceremony at the Lions’ Sept. 26 game against the Baltimore Ravens, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Thursday.

Johnson has had an icy relationship with the Lions since the team required him to repay a $1.6 million portion of his signing bonus when he retired after the 2015 season.

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NFL teams are allowed under the collective bargaining agreement with players to recoup the prorated portion of a retiring player’s signing bonus, which for Johnson could have amounted to as much as $3.2 million.

Most teams, however, do not pursue signing bonus prorations when players of Johnson’s magnitude retire.

The Lions submitted an official proposal to bring Johnson back into the fold this spring, one Johnson deemed inadequate.

Under terms of the deal, the Lions would have paid Johnson about $1.5 million for appearance fees over a three-year span, and made a one-time donation of $100,000 to his charity.

The proposal was subject to NFL review.

“It wasn’t what I paid back, put it like that,” Johnson told the Free Press of the Lions’ proposal at his Hall-of-Fame induction ceremony in August. “So they’re not serious. That’s all.”

Johnson, who owns most Lions receiving records, said he was “not going to close the door” on a reunion with the only NFL team he played for.

[ How Calvin Johnson compares to the 30 other Pro Football Hall of Fame WRs ]

He has watched one other Lions game from Ford Field during retirement, but from inside a suite with friends and family members.

The Lions, as is standard, also hosted a party for Johnson after his enshrinement. Johnson met Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp and her husband, Steve, backstage during the party.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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