In a couple of days, the L.A. Rams roster will be a little bit smaller after final cuts but still probably the youngest in the NFL. So far, that’s been an issue for Matthew Stafford, who has found it hard to connect with the many rookies and new faces on the Rams roster this year, according to his wife Kelly.
But he’s like ‘I don’t know how to lead people I have no connection with. I have to somehow find a way to connect with them.’”
How much longer will it take for Stafford to find common ground with L.A.’s many rookies, or will that never happen?
On the latest episode of her podcast “The Morning After with Kelly Stafford”, Kelly Stafford shares that her husband Matthew has felt a significant difference in the locker room this year as compared to his previous 14 seasons, in part because the young players would rather be on their phones than talking to teammates in the locker room. He’s had to go as far as to having the equipment staff print out a “face book” so that he could remember everyone’s name and make an attempt to get to know them. But as Kelly tells it, there’s practically a feeling of hopelessness that veterans like him are having a harder time leading because of distractions.
“It’s kind of crazy. So Matthew’s been in the league a long time. He’s like ‘The difference in the locker room has changed so significantly.’ They have a lot of rookies on their team, they’re very young. But he’s like ‘I feel like I can’t connect. In the old days you’d come out of practice, you’d shower, and people would be playing cards, interacting. Who knows what they’re doing but they’re doing something together. Playing ping pong, they have a tournament going on. They’d at least be talking.
But now they get out of practice, and meetings during training camp, and they go straight to their phones. No one looks up from their phones. Matthew’s like ‘I don’t know...Am i the dad? Do I take their phones? What do I do here?’ He’s like ‘I want them to see me not as a coach.’
They say ‘Sir’ to him and shit. He’s like ‘No, we’re on the same level here, we’re both playing in the league. Let me get to know you.’ He said it’s so different and so hard to get to know these guys. He had a book printed out. He had the equipment guy get a book printed of all their faces, and all their names, cause he’s like ‘I need to know their names. We need to talk, so I’m gonna find their names and I’m gonna say ‘Hey so and so how was your weekend?’ So they know I know them and maybe we should get to know each other so there’s chemistry on the field.’
“But i think nowadays it’s really hard to develop that because all these young kids they don’t care. Or it’s not that they don’t care, but they’re so used to going straight to their phones. It’s different. it’s kind of sad.”
Kelly continued explaining how Matthew has described the trouble he’s had connecting with the Rams young roster, currently at 14 drafted rookies and 22 undrafted free agents, many of whom will make the team and practice squad on Tuesday. She noted that Stafford doesn’t know how to lead this team because he can’t connect with those players. Kelly’s podcast co-host asked what Matthew was going to do to fix the issue, but there are no clear solutions.
“We were gonna have the “making the team party” like every year but half our house flooded. It’s hard to know what to do. If he’s like ‘Hey let’s go to dinner,’ okay most of the young guys will come to dinner and then say ‘Ok, let’s go to the club’ and not have conversation at the dinner. It’s way different.
“If I were the Rams, I’d be setting things up all the time. I would set it up so that the players have a box that they can all go to this (Messi) game so that they can hang out. The Lions always had events were good at that. So when you lose or you win, it feels like it doesn’t mean as much because your team isn’t connected like they used to be. I think Matthew feels it the most because he’s so old and like a leader on the team. But he’s like ‘I don't know how to lead people I have no connection with. I have to somehow find a way to connect with them.’”
Matthew Stafford has always been one of the most private stars in the NFL, but as his wife has noted several times on her podcast before, he’s not married to a private person. Therefore, revelations like these ones shared on her podcast may offer more insight into the behind-the-scenes at Rams camp than anything we will hear from reporters or Kevin Demoff, Sean McVay, Les Snead, and Stafford himself.
We know that the Rams denied having trade conversations about Stafford, then basically admitted that they took phone calls and had talks. We know that Demoff and company denied reports that they tried to re-do Stafford’s deal, and then Stafford told the media the complete opposite story and said they did. We haven’t heard anything about Stafford having any trouble connecting with L.A.’s historically inexperienced roster, and now his wife says that’s been a hot topic of conversation in the Stafford household.
Is this a problem that the Rams are denying exists again, or just one that they’re choosing to ignore until it comes to light on its own? It appears it already has.