DETROIT – Appearances can be deceptive.
At first glance, a casual sports fan wouldn’t find it hard to think of Calvin Johnson as an active football player.
But for Johnson, 35, those days are completely over.
“I’m too far away,” Johnson told ESPN with a laugh. “I want to enjoy my snowboard and grow a great product.”
Megatron still maintains his 6-foot-5 shaped frame, which has helped him “Moss” too many defenders to be named a member of the Detroit Lions, but now that gray hair is slowly creeping in.
In addition to being a husband and raising three sons, the retired student is a businessman, and the “product” to which the Hall of Famer, soon to be in the first ballot, refers to is cannabis. . Johnson launched Primitiv, his new Michigan-based cannabis brand, last week with former Lions teammate Rob Sims. He even made a rare appearance for a meetup at the Jars River Rouge dispensary on Thursday.
They hope to change the narrative with cannabis and athletics. After more than three years of trial and error, Johnson and Sims were comfortable proposing the brand, even as he approached his Hall of Fame sign on August 7 and potentially attached a stigma cannabis around his name.
“It was definitely one thing, but it was something I believed in,” Johnson said. “I was using when I was playing. Yes, I had fun with it, but at the same time I knew there was something more.
Managing pain is one of the main benefits of marijuana, he said. The same pain that forced him to quit the game at age 30 and break the hearts of many Lions fans when there were apparently plenty left in the tank.
The sports business then damaged his relationship with the organization, as he was forced to pay back just over $ 1 million to the Lions upon his retirement after the 2015 season. The money was part of the signing bonus. which had been granted to him at the start of his last contract.
Johnson told ESPN he has not received any refund of that money and the Lions have yet to communicate plans to do so with him, but he describes their relationship, particularly with owner Sheila Ford Hamp, like a “friendly” relationship.
“Since this year really, I’ve had a few conversations with Sheila. I have to know her a bit, ”Johnson said. “It’s really nice, I got to know the family, and she said she would send me and my wife flowers after we had the baby. So, it was very nice. This is really where it happens. Just friendly back and forth.
The upcoming Hall of Fame induction has fixed their relationship somewhat, but there is still work to be done.
“Obviously yes, because there has been some noise that there has been communication, but we’ll see what happens,” Johnson said.
In March, Lions team chairman and CEO Rod Wood also said the relationship with Johnson was “going in the right direction.”
“We are actively working with Calvin and his team on the Hall of Fame celebrations and continuing to have conversations with them,” said Wood. “I know Calvin has mentioned publicly that he’s bonded with Sheila, and it’s a positive step, so we’re going to continue celebrating with him, and I think the relationship is going in the right direction.
Calvin Johnson talks about joining the Pro Football Hall of Fame and struggling to write his induction speech.
After all, Johnson has been spectacular in his nine year career at Motown. He still holds the Lions’ franchise records for career receptions (731), receiving yards (11,619) and touchdowns (83). Johnson will only be the third player to enter the Professional Football Hall of Fame at 35 or under, joining Gale Sayers and Jim Brown.
His impact is still so strong in Detroit that Lions coach Ben Johnson is pushing current tight Pro Bowl club TJ Hockenson to study Johnson’s film as he enters third year.
“He makes me watch Calvin Johnson, all these guys,” Hockenson said during Thursday’s OTA. “He makes me watch [Travis] Kelce, [George] Kittle, [Darren] Waller, just, I mean, everyone you can imagine.
“I mean, I watch them, I take notes, I try to be able to implement things into my game. And he just shows me little bits, like, ‘Hey, that exit point looks good.’ Or: “This route looks good and you can do it”. He thinks there are different things I can implement in my game that will help me in the years to come.
Johnson is also keeping his eyes on the Lions roster. He said he had been in communication with his former teammate Matthew Stafford and believed he would “shake things up” with the Los Angeles Rams, but Johnson is also looking forward to seeing the new Detroit team with Jared Goff as quarterback.
“I’m excited. I love Matt, but the change of scenery for the two was probably the best. And having someone [Goff] this has already led his team to the big game and is relatively young, ”said Johnson. “Then with [head coach] Dan Campbell, a young coach. I played with Dan.
“He was playing with one arm,” Johnson said of Campbell. “But he was still there starting and playing beasts there, but still supporting. Such crazy respect for him, and I know the guys are going to respect him. I’ve met [general manager and executive vice president] Brad [Holmes] too much. He did some great things there in LA so I can’t wait to see what they do.
As Lions reshape their culture, Johnson remains committed to his new venture in the cannabis industry and hopes to make a strong impact. He maintains a low-key lifestyle while living in Michigan keeping a close relationship with his family which helps him stay humble.
For about three weeks, he has also been working on his Hall of Fame speech, with the help of his business partner, Dr. Tommy Shavers.
“I can’t let this go at the last minute like everything else, like when I was in grade school, man. I can’t wait to write this document at the last minute, ”Johnson said with a chuckle. “This year is a little different for the Hall of Fame. They shortened everyone’s speeches. After eight minutes, it’s like the Apollo, they come out and take you off the stage. David Baker is coming to pick you up.
“So I have eight minutes.”
Long-time former Georgia Tech chaplain Derrick Moore will welcome Johnson to the Hall of Fame, further diminishing any hope among Lions fans of a potential return to the NFL, even in the slightest way.
“Derrick penetrated me so deeply as a man when I was at Georgia Tech, and I’ll never forget him,” Johnson said. “Those moments that I had there kind of helped propel me up, obviously on top of what my parents instilled in me as well, were kind of made worse and brought me to being here today. ‘hui.