The latest saga in the star wide receiver's rift with the Lions came to light Tuesday, when he cited his former team as a reason for retiring while he was in Italy last week.
"Of course I thought about it. Just like in basketball, you know, guys, they create these super teams. But it's not quite like that in football where I had the freedom just to go," Johnson said, via ESPN.com.
"I was stuck in my contract with Detroit and they told me they would not release my contract, so I would have to come back to them. I didn't see the chance for them to win a Super Bowl at the time, and for the work I was putting in, it wasn't worth my time to keep on beating my head against the wall and not going anywhere."
Johnson was prolific in a Lions uniform, hauling in 731 receptions for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns in nine seasons.
Earlier this year, Johnson voiced his displeasure that the Lions made him repay part of his signing bonus once he retired.
The Lions' relationship with former star running back Barry Sanders also soured after he prematurely retired. Their rapport has since improved, but it appears Johnson and the organization have an uphill climb.
Oddly enough, the Lions were probably one playmaker away from contending last season. Johnson's services would have certainly helped their cause.