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Matthew Stafford on opting out: ‘I never gave it serious thought’

Once again, Matthew Stafford is committed to football—and committed to the Detroit Lions.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Stafford’s have had a lot on their plate over the past couple years. Between brain surgery for Kelly and an intense recovery program, three kids—including a twins—and a fourth newcomer to the family this year, a broken back, and a big COVID-19 scare just a week ago, it couldn’t have been easy for the family.

So no one would’ve blamed Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford if he had decided to sit out a year to protect himself and his family. But in his first interview since the COVID-19 false positive test, Stafford said he and his family never truly considered it.

“Like everybody, you hear it and you talk with your spouse and your family about it,” Stafford said. “I never gave it serious thought. I want to play football. I want to be out here. I have a supporting wife and family that know I love doing what I do and know it’s important to me. So they were right on board there with me.”

Stafford is entering his 12th season in the NFL, coming off one of the most impressive string of games in his career before the aforementioned broken back cut his season in half. But fully healthy now and ready to go, he is looking to finally put all of the doubts about his commitment behind him—even as conspiracy theorists continue to wonder whether the listing of his Bloomfield Township house is a sign of a departing quarterback.

“It has nothing to do with my tenure here, how long I’ve been here, how long I want to be here,” Stafford said. “I don’t know how many times I’ve got to tell you guys, I want to be here as long as I can. It has nothing to do with that, I promise.”

Instead, Stafford simply reiterated that it was a family matter, as described by his wife a couple months ago. Back in May, Kelly simply explained that with four young children she didn’t feel safe around a body of water.

As for the false positive COVID test result he received, Stafford understands it was a learning experience for the NFL. As a result of Stafford’s test results, the NFL changed their testing policy. Previously, even though Stafford tested negative twice before his positive result, and was negative three more times in the days after the positive test, he still had to sit out five days.

Under the new rule, if a player has no known history of COVID infection and is still asymptomatic, a positive test result will have to be confirmed by two separate tests the following day. In the meantime, the player will still have to isolate. But if the confirmation tests turn up negative, a player could potentially return in the span of 48 hours rather than five days—a significant change in a short work week.

In fact, Stafford was even a little grateful it happened to him now instead of in the middle of the season.

“I know everybody is doing the best that they possibly can,” Stafford said. “I’m glad that it happened to me at this point and the league is doing what they can to try and change and make sure this doesn’t happen again. But I’m sure there’s going to be another problem down the road at some point that we’re going to have to figure out when we get there.”

For now, though, Stafford remains optimistic about the safety in the building and is focused on just getting things back to as normal as possible.

“I’m just happy to be in the building hanging with the guys, getting a little normalcy back when it comes to football.”