On Tuesday, Zack Follett did an interview with ESPN Radio out in Fresno, California, and called Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford a "china doll." The rest of his comment about Stafford was nothing but positive, but people took notice of his use of the phrase china doll to describe Stafford and this story quickly blew up, both locally and nationally.
Before going any further, here is Follett's full comment on Stafford:
"Stafford, good guy," Follett said. "He’s a china doll right now. Anytime he gets hit, he goes down. But the kid is -- hopefully, it’s just patiently waiting for him, because the kid is an awesome talent. He has a tremendous arm. The throws that he makes during practice when no one can touch him, he looks like an All-American quarterback, but put him in a game, and you hit his shoulder. So hopefully, say a couple prayers, keep him healthy next year, and the Lions can do some damage in the NFC."
What I took from this comment when I first read it was this: Follett knows Stafford is very talented and the Lions are going places with him if he can stay healthy. The problem the last couple years has been that Stafford can't stay healthy, hence the use of the phrase china doll. I personally don't have any problem with what he said (after all, what he said is accurate), but I'm not surprised that this story was blown out of proportion. You don't expect to be listening to an interview and hear someone call a teammate a china doll, which is a very direct way of saying that someone can't stay healthy.
Follett quickly realized that his comment on Stafford was being taken the wrong way, and he set out to do damage control, talking with both 97.1 The Ticket and the Free Press. (Follett also uploaded a video that served as a response to his comments, but I think simply sticking with what he told the Free Press would have been much more worthwhile.)
"I was just, basically, referring to how he’s been injured," Follett said. "I guess I’d say it’s a wrong choice of words, obviously. I didn’t mean anything real impactful by it in saying that he can’t lead this team. In the quote, after I got done just saying that, I definitely have all the faith that he can lead us and be that quarterback that we know he can be. I know the challenge that he has, and we’re just trying to keep him healthy. So basically, if I could re-say it, I would just say he’s been injured; I wouldn’t call him a china doll."
My thoughts are pretty much summed up by what Follett said in the quote above. Follett didn't say anything wrong, but his choice of words could have been better, as simply saying Stafford has struggled with injuries wouldn't have caused things to blow up like they did with the china doll remark. It's not surprising that this story blew up, and I think it is the definition of an overreaction, but this type of response is to be expected when a player calls his team's quarterback a china doll on the radio. Follett didn't make the remark with the intent of being controversial, but I can certainly understand why it came off that way and grabbed people's attention.