It’s hard to blame anyone for missing time on the field with stuff at home, but Matthew Stafford isn’t just anyone.
In early April, Matthew’s wife Kelly Stafford announced she needed surgery for a brain tumor on her cranial nerves. Matthew spent the first week of offseason workouts with his wife, but less than 24 hours after she was released from the hospital, he was back in Allen Park.
The Lions told Stafford to take as much time off as needed, per ESPN, but Stafford was ready to get back to work, with some pushing from Kelly.
“She’s tough, she was telling me to get the heck out of the house and go take care of what I needed to take care of,” Matthew said.
Stafford said his family is thankful for all the love and support from not only the public, but his Lions family, including calls from owner Martha Ford checking in.
“Bob and all those guys upstairs have been great in letting me come back at kind of my own pace, and obviously Coach Patricia as well,” he said. “I’ve got an obligation to this team that I love fulfilling. I wanna be here. We’ve got a new offense. I’m having a blast trying to learn it and teach these guys as well. But at the same time I’ve got a lot going on at home, and they were really flexible with me and letting me come in on some off hours and make sure I was taking care of my obligation, my duty to the team and then being able to be at home as well.”
Patricia said on Tuesday that, frankly, that’s just par for the course for Stafford.
“Matt Stafford is an unbelievable guy. This is the guy that has come to work every single day and has done everything he can to try and help this team. Obviously, like we all do in life, trying to deal with life outside the building. He’s done an amazing job of that, like he does every single day that he’s here,” he said.
And it couldn’t have been easy. First, Kelly’s surgery turned into more than expected after doctors found an abnormal vein, which doubled the time it took to complete. Then there were recovery setbacks, including a trip to the emergency room from the pain Kelly experienced as she weaned off steroids. Add three young children at home, twins Chandler and Sawyer born in 2017, and Hunter, born last August—and that’s a lot. A lot, a lot.
“It was tough ... Some days, Kelly had a good night. Some days I was here loving it. If Kelly had a bad night, I was trying to get home as fast as I can. It’s been up and down, just as we kind of expected it to be,” he said. “But like I said, everybody here has been extremely supportive and my teammates have been great, too. They understand they know that I’m committed, I’m dedicated to this team and our future and our season, but at the same time, a lot of those guys have families too and understand how important that is.”
And Patricia’s happy.
“Just couldn’t be more blessed, more happy to have a guy like that who his desire to be in this building and handle everything that he has to handle off the field but come in here every single day ready to work—that’s just a true professional,” he said.
Last Wednesday, Stafford gave a positive update, telling WJR-760 that his wife is “right where the doctors want her to be.” A few days later, Kelly took to Instagram last week to thank her husband for all his support.
“Thank you Matthew. Thank you for taking care of me and our family and always putting us first. Thank you for always being my rock and keeping me at ease during the toughest time of my life. Im lucky to know you and the man you are.. but mostly, I’m lucky you chose me to do life with. Thank you.”
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If I look extremely exhausted, it’s because I was. I barely slept the night before. This picture was taken right after the surgeon came and marked “yes” on the the right side of my head, behind my ear, to know what side he would be cutting open. That’s when it became real. That’s when it became so scary I began to tear up and shake a little. Then I looked at Matthew. He had been my rock through this entire thing and he was so calm.. and it calmed me. The night before, I wrote him and all three of my girls letters, just letting them know how much I love them. I gave them to my mom to give to him after I went into surgery. Maybe a little overkill, but hell, it was brain surgery and it was completely terrifying.. so I didn’t want to take any chances. But here I am. Healthy and alive and beyond grateful for every day.. Enjoying my husband and family and getting used to my new norms. I realized I really don’t like riding in cars, especially in the back seat.. a perfect excuse to always have shotgun. I don’t love loud, busy restaurants as much as I used to and I also struggle in areas with a lot of moving people (malls, airports, etc). I will wear heels, but with caution for me and everyone around me. I have become used to telling people I’m slightly “hard of hearing” and I’ll give you a hug, but be aware I might take you down with me if you’re not completely still while doing so. I realized dancing with my girls (shaking my booty and all) might take a few more months and I’m sure everyone is ok with that, Matthew included And although not expected, but pleasantly surprising, I still love my head rubbed/massaged. And this man does it every. Single. Night. Thank you Matthew. Thank you for taking care of me and our family and always putting us first. Thank you for always being my rock and keeping me at ease during the toughest time of my life. Im lucky to know you and the man you are.. but mostly, I’m lucky you chose me to do life with. Thank you. #tbt ♀️ #braintumorawarenessmonth #anwarrior #StaffordStrong