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Calvin Johnson excited to be around the Lions, with an improved relationship

Hall of Fame receiver Calvin Johnson finally appears to be ready to bury the hatchet with the Lions.

Johnson, who said recently that his relationship with the Lions is “trending up,” elaborated on that in an interview with Jim Rome, saying Lions Chief Operating Officer Mike Disner has reached out to mend fences in a way that previous Lions executives refused to do.

“We’re having some good conversations,” Johnson said. “Mike Disner over there with the Lions . . . he’s putting the effort in to bring the two of us together, on the same page. I’m excited about him actually reaching out and putting the effort forth to try to make that happen. That’s the difference that I have not seen in the past that’s happening now. So I’m excited about it because I want to get back around football and help out the team. Not that they need my help, but I have a lot of experience to share with those guys, whether it’s football or off the field. I definitely can be of value to the organization. I’m excited to be around the team again. Just being around football and allowing my kids to see some of the things that I was able to do while I was in Detroit.”

When Johnson retired, the Lions forced him to pay back $1.6 million of his signing bonus, and that has never sat right with Johnson. Although the Lions had a contractual right to do that, teams often decide not to squeeze money out of their retired players, especially players like Johnson, who was one of the greatest in franchise history on the field as well as a good man off the field. It’s easy to understand why Johnson’s feathers were ruffled.

But that was seven years ago, and much has changed since then: Disner has arrived as COO, a different member of the Ford family functions as the team owner, and the coach and GM from that time are long gone. Johnson seems ready to let the past be the past and build a new relationship with his old team.