Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford was slated to make his Detroit homecoming during the 2024 campaign. Instead, Stafford will return to the Motor City with the season on the line as the Rams face the Lions in the Wild Card Round. It’s almost like it was destined to be just as the football gods intended. I’m sure that narrative won’t be stretched in the slightest this week.
Leading up to the playoffs, the veteran QB is “definitely excited” about returning to Ford Field on Sunday.
“It will be fun to see some of the people that I haven’t seen in a while, that I know are still around the building. And obviously it’ll be a different scenario and won’t be wearing their colors. But still, appreciate so many of the people there that gave me my start in this league and took care of me for 12 years, too,” Stafford said in his postgame remarks on January 7
While Staff isn’t making a big spectacle out of his return, it has to be hard not to feel bittersweet about it. In his 12 years with the Lions, Matt played in three playoff games, all losses, and was unable to host any of those matchups at home. He was drafted by Detroit for those types of games. However, circumstances mostly out of his control like being held back by a generally crappy organization, prevented him for doing so.
What Stafford will come to realize as the game nears is just how challenging it is for high-profile quarterbacks to play their old teams.
The most notable homecoming being Peyton Manning’s return to the Colts during the 2013 season. Manning was in his second season with the Broncos at the time after spending the first 14 years of his illustrious career in Indianapolis. Denver fell behind 33-14 before Manning nearly rallied his team to an improbable comeback before eventually losing 39-33.
Oct. 20, 2013: Andrew Luck vs. Peyton Manning. #Colts legend against new face of the franchise:— Locked On Colts Podcast (@LockedOnColts) May 30, 2020
- Peyton's return to Indy
- Special teams come up huge, shoutout @PatMcAfeeShow
- Mathis strip-sacks Peyton
- Luck shreds Denver's defense
- Manning almost pulls off impossible win pic.twitter.com/cCCbh1ASm2
Tom Brady returned to Foxborough in 2021 while also being in the second season with his new team. Piled on top of that homecoming was the fact that Brady had to face his former defensive mastermind of a head coach, Bill Belichick. The Buccaneers were able to squeak past the Patriots 19-17 in a mostly forgettable performance by the future Hall of Famer. Brady completed only 51 percent of his passes and finished with a 70.8 passer rating.
Russell Wilson did not have the luxury of waiting to play the Seahawks as he faced them in his Broncos debut. Unlike Manning and Brady who left their teams in free agency, Wilson wanted to be traded and quickly learned that the turf is not always greener on the other side. Despite spending his first 10 years in Seattle, the fans unleashed the boo birds.
Russ was unable to lead Broncos Country to victory as well, Nathaniel Hackett happened. The Broncos lost 17-16 as Hackett foolishly elected to kick a 64-yard field goal instead of trusting his highly-paid star with the game on the line.
Similar to Wilson, Stafford wanted a trade from the only team he had ever known prior to arriving in LA. Matt wanted an opportunity to earn a Super Bowl ring that was never going to happen in Detroit. Wanting to play for a contender was understandable as all the years of losing and mismanagement finally broke him.
For the most part, I expect Stafford to receive mostly cheers from the Lions faithful. There will be some boos of course, but not to the extent of what the 12s unleashed onto Wilson. Nothing has indicated that this game is about Stafford seeking revenge for all the missed opportunities with the Lions.
As reflected in his locker room comments, Matthew Stafford seemingly has all love for the team that took care of him for 12 years.
Inject this into my veins. Let’s go 9‼️ pic.twitter.com/9wQng8bZG9— HoldenCantor (@HoldenCantor) January 8, 2024