By: Will Burchfield
Calvin Johnson laid bare the motives behind his early retirement on Tuesday, explaining he left the NFL in part because he had no faith in the Lions winning a Super Bowl.
He added that there was a chance he would have kept playing had the Lions released him, but he was “stuck” in his contract with Detroit.
These comments, though hardly a revelation, rubbed some people the wrong way.
Former NFL player Ross Tucker, now an NFL analyst on NBC Sports and Sirius XM, said it seemed “beneath” Johnson to badmouth his former team.
Tucker added later, “You wouldn’t hear me talking badly about (the) only team I played for, that drafted me and paid me $113 (million).”
That didn’t sit well with former Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky, Johnson’s teammate for two seasons in Detroit. Orlovsky took to Twitter to let his feelings be known.
“A lot being said of CJ (after) his comments. I spent six seasons with him. He is as classy, hard-working and stand-up as anyone that ever passed through our league. He was a part of some historically tough times. That would weigh and wear on anyone. Even Megatron,” said Orlovsky in a series of Tweets.
To this, Tucker responded, “Always seemed that way to me, which is why bad-mouthing the team now seems out of character for him.”
Johnson spent nine seasons with the Lions, earning six trips to the Pro Bowl and three first-team All-Pro selections. During that span, the team went 34-97 and made just two playoff appearances, losing in the first round both times.
It’s understandable these kind of results pushed Johnson away from the game.
“When your greatness is covered by your teams’ lack of it,” Orlovsky said, “it (affects) you immensely.”
Added Orlovsky, “He was a once-in-a-lifetime player. He should’ve been treated that way outside of (money). If he feels he wasn’t, he’s probably right.”
Orlovsky also pointed out that Johnson and Matthew Stafford were the team’s lone bright spots for a long time and said Megatron “should’ve been revered from (the) top down.”
Orlovsky was challenged on his stance that Johnson had a right to be frustrated with the Lions.
In response, Orlovsky said, “Lions fans are great, yeah, but to question CJ or his feelings is outrageous. Guy gave literally all he had all the time. Don’t question his intentions now.”
When asked why Johnson feels the need to air his grievances, Orlovsky said, “He’s entitled to speak how he wants. When he was playing he wasn’t asked the question (of why he retired) because he was still playing. He’s earned that right.”