Maybe the nicest thing the Packers could do for their fans is to trade Aaron Rodgers to a contender.
Lions are mammals, but when Detroit laid the NFL’s first goose egg in 2008, the reward was the perfect quarterback prospect. I’m not intending to overrate Matthew Stafford as a pro quarterback, only that few draft classes in league history have had prospects at the position who were the top-rated high schooler in the country, the top-rated freshman in the country, and the top-rated draft prospect after three years in school.
The Detroit Lions have never been to the Super Bowl and they’ve only even ever reached a conference championship game one time in the Super Bowl era, but Stafford is the franchise’s only number one pick since 1980. That year, the Lions selected Billy Sims, a player so representative of a time that is not now based on the fact that he was a 25-year-old running back who went first overall.
Sims, a three-time Pro Bowler by the end of his third season, was out of the NFL shortly thereafter. In Stafford’s case, the opposite was true as his first two seasons were marred by injury and then in year three he threw 41 touchdowns and led the Lions to a 10-6 record. Detroit’s best mark since 1995 and first postseason trip since 1999.
By the time he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 2021, Stafford’s 12 years in Detroit were marked down as a ‘disappointment’ at best and a ‘failure on his part’ at worst by countless media members and people who commented on the deal at the time. Talk of 0-3 in the playoffs and an injury history that robbed the team of his availability and caused him to miss ... eight games in his last 10 seasons, all in 2019.
However, as someone who writes about the Rams, I received a bit of a different response on the trade. All from Lions fans... “You’re getting a good one. You’ll see.”
For even if Matthew Stafford went 0-3 in the postseason over 12 years, he also help post four winning seasons for a franchise that only had eight winning seasons in the 40 years prior. He helped the Lions go 11-5 in 2014 — an underwhelming mark for Tom Brady’s Patriots maybe, but the second-best record in Detroit Lions franchise history — and so I was always more impressed that Matthew Stafford managed to survive 12 years in Detroit with his reputation as a quality starting quarterback in tact than I was surprised that the Rams valued him so highly.
So too did many Lions fans value Stafford that highly and L.A.’s current run to the NFC Championship game is more evidence that he still gets free drinks for life in Detroit.
After Stafford rallied the Rams to a 30-27 win over Tom Brady’s Bucs on Sunday, many Lions fans around the country rejoiced as if they were either Rams fans or finally watching Stafford make a deep run in the postseason. Especially this guy:
But he’s not alone.
There are many Lions fans and many current, former Lions players who are living the high life by getting to see one of their all-time favorites finally get to show off what he does on the biggest stage possible. There’s been plenty said about how well the 49ers travel and how many opposing fans will show up to SoFi Stadium for the NFC Championship on Sunday, but with Stafford as the quarterback, the Rams will have a few extra people rooting for them too.
What a moment for Stafford. 38 GW drives with the Lions. Biggest of his career right there.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) January 23, 2022
Matthew Stafford is getting a home playoff game to go to the Super Bowl.— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) January 24, 2022
Sucks it’s not in Detroit, but that man deserves this opportunity more than anyone else in the NFL.
CONGRATULATIONS MATTHEW STAFFORD— Detroit Lions Pro (@DetroitLionsPro) January 23, 2022
I’m always going to be a Lions fan. I think most other Matthew Stafford defenders are always going to be Lions fans, too.— Tony Dombrowski (@tonydombrowski) January 24, 2022
Stafford is our guy, even if he’s not here anymore. We want to see him win.
If you disagree, I get it. I’m not mad at you for that.
Me, I want 9 to win.
People who still believe Matthew Stafford was the problem with the Lions are either delusional or very much in denial.— Ryan Field (@RyanFieldABC) January 24, 2022
Pretty cool he is one win away from the Super Bowl. pic.twitter.com/VrcgC3jO7x
It doesn’t make you any less of a Lions fan to want our boy Matt Stafford get a playoff win— Detroits Time (@DetroitsTime) January 18, 2022
People rip me for rooting for Stafford. I’ll explain why:— Mike Sullivan (@MikeSullivan) January 24, 2022
1. He worked his ass off in Detroit and did nothing wrong.
2. He did a ton of great charity in our community.
3. Lions aren’t in playoffs... Why not root for him to succeed?
How is this so difficult to understand?
The fact that Lions fans are so supportive of a guy who never won a playoff game for the team shows how special this dude is.— Hot Take Empire (@HotTakeEmpire) January 24, 2022
Nobody snatches souls like Stafford pic.twitter.com/dGgkVGxhG7
I just can’t believe the Lions missed so hard on building a team around Stafford.— Mike Payton (@POD_Payton) January 23, 2022