Calvin Johnson Says Lions Wanted Him To Lie About Concussion So He Could Play

So much for player safety, right?

Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who retired in the prime of his career in 2016, opening up about his life in the NFL and issues he had with the organization.

Johnson, in an interview with Sports Illustrated, admitted to smoking marijuana after every game to help manage the pain and added that he suffered at least nine concussions during his career.

That includes a concussion he suffered in 2012 where it was so bad, he blacked out, but despite that scare, Johnson claims the Lions told him to lie about it so he could pass concussion protocol and continue to play:


Johnson told SI:

He got used to concussions. “Bam, hit the ground real hard. I’m seeing stars; I can’t see straight,” he says. “But I know in a couple minutes I’m gonna be fine. Because I’ve done that plenty of times before.”

In 2012 he told reporters he suffered one against the Vikings. The Lions said (and maintain) that he passed their concussion protocol, and Johnson later apologized: “I misused the terms nerve damage and concussion.” But he says now, “I knew I was concussed because I blacked out. I wasn’t seeing straight. And they wanted me to change my story.” Mostly, he says, he played through concussions because in his NFL that’s how you earn Employee of the Month.

Johnson and the Lions have had a strained relationship since he retired and it is primarily because the organization made him payback $1 million of his signing bonus because of his early retirement.