As a Detroit Lions fan, I’m beside myself with excitement that Ben Johnson is coming back to Detroit next season to try to bring a Super Bowl win to the Motor City. He seemed like he had one foot out the door.
Both the Washington Commanders and Seattle Seahawks held back their interview process so that they could interview Johnson, as the offensive coordinator was busy with the Lions being in the NFL playoffs. Then, after the Lions lost to the San Francisco 49ers (it still stings), he made the surprise announcement that he’s staying in Detroit for another season.
That said, it’s pretty upsetting that there’s all this Ben Johnson gossip lately. It all began when Johnson took himself out of the running. Johnson reportedly made his choice when the Commanders were flying to Detroit to interview both Johnson and Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn for the job. It was like Deja vu, because Johnson did the same thing in 2023, turning down all offers for an interview before he was lined up to interview for the big Carolina Panthers gig.
So, the first bit of gossip is that Johnson should have told Washington earlier that he wasn’t interested, since they waited so long for him. Sure, his move could have been seen as less than convenient, but in his defense, he had a change of heart. That’s not something you plan out. Besides, the Commanders were also coming in to interview Aaron Glenn, so it’s not like Johnson’s announcement really changed their plans.
Then, more gossip. During the season, Josina Anderson of CBS Sports reported that Hohnson was reportedly asking for a very high amount of money to leave Detroit, upwards of $15 million/year. Others, however, including Richard Flowers III, denied that rumor.
Then, when Johnson turned down jobs this cycle, Adam Schefter of ESPN tweeted, “Ben Johnson was not the head-coaching lock that people thought and his asking price spooked some teams, per sources.”
Add to that Mike Garafolo of Seattle Radio saying of Johnson: I’ve even heard that his personality is— you know, he’s very smart, very bright, great play-caller, but I’ve heard that his personality is kind of… not the most gregarious guy. Not a Mike Macdonald type (of) guy or even a Dan Quinn type (of) guy.” Say what? Since when was being “gregarious” a factor in being a great coach?
Jenna Laine of ESPN also got her two cents in, saying, “Was told that Ben Johnson was “turned off” by Commanders ownership, that they’re “basketball guys” and felt they were a little too confident in their football opinions. And I also heard that he “didn’t interview well.” He said, he said, but clearly not a good fit for both sides.”
Geez. There’s more drama here than a soap opera. I totally write off all the rumors and “he said, she said.” Regardless, Detroit Lions fans are certainly happy that Johnson is back. Hopefully the Commanders will be happy with their new coach, Dan Quinn, and the Seahawks will be pleased with their pick, Mike Macdonald. That way, we can all go home happy.