NFL legend Calvin Johnson waited nearly three years to respond to Lions post after division clincher

Calvin Johnson is widely considered the greatest wide receiver in Detroit Lions history. 

Despite Johnson’s standout individual performances over the course of his nine-year career in Detroit, the team did not experience much success during his tenure. Johnson was a member of the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame class. The Lions shared a congratulatory post on social media in January 2021, praising Johnson after he was named a Hall of Fame finalist.

Shortly after the Lions defeated the Vikings on Christmas Eve to clinch a division title for the first time since 1993, Johnson took to X to like, share and reply to the nearly 3-year-old post.

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Former Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets wide receiver Calvin Johnson on the field against the Syracuse Orange prior to the second half at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Hyundai Field in Atlanta Nov. 18, 2023. (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)

“Much appreciated. Thanks for the continuous support! Love my city!” Johnson wrote on Sunday afternoon. Johnson abruptly stepped away from football following the 2015 season. 

Johnson finished his standout career with 11,619 receiving yards. The former Georgia Tech football star surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in six of his nine seasons.

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He was just 30 years old when he decided to leave the NFL. Johnson’s relationship with the franchise has been somewhat strained since his unexpected retirement. The team reportedly asked Johnson to repay approximately $1.6 million of his signing bonus following his retirement.

Calvin Johnson makes catch during a Lions game

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson makes a catch against the Washington Redskins in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Detroit on Oct. 26, 2008. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

The relationship between Johnson and his old team has seemed to improve over the years. He made an appearance at Ford Field earlier this season for the Lions Week 2 game against Seattle Seahawks. 

Johnson also hosted a high school football camp at the Lions training facility earlier this year. ESPN previously reported that Johnson attended a minicamp session.

Calvin Johnson speaks following Hall of Fame ring celebration

Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson speaks after being presented his Hall of Fame ring during halftime of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Detroit on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)

Detroit won just four games in 2012 when Johnson collected 1,964 receiving yards.

The Lions finished with a 4-12 record in 2012. In 2014, the Lions went 11-5 and qualified for the postseason. However, Detroit ultimately suffered a 24-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the wild-card round.

Lions coach Dan Campbell has helped turn the franchise’s fortunes around. Clinching the division title on Sunday gave the Lions the right to host the first ever playoff game at Ford Field in January. 

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“It’s pretty exciting man, it really is,” quarterback Jared Goff told NFL Network after the game. “It’s been a lot of hard work. A long time coming. We have a special group man, we really do. This was hard-fought. It wasn’t pretty there at the end, but we got it done.”

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