On Wednesday evening, Matthew Stafford broke his silence since the Detroit Lions agreed to trade him to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff, two first-round picks and a third-round pick in return. Stafford joined WDIV’s Hank Winchester for a short, but sincere interview recorded earlier in the week.
Over the weekend, Stafford also spoke with the Detroit Free Press’ Mitch Albom, who had previously partnered with the Lions quarterback to renovate a recreation center back in 2015. Stafford’s interview with Albom was much more detailed and informative, and I’d highly suggest reading it here.
In it, Stafford revealed that he first started thinking about requesting a trade last year. Knowing that 2020 would be a make-or-break season for Matt Patricia and company, he wasn’t thrilled with the idea of going through another rebuild at age 33.
“It was one of those things where, you know, we were hoping that, golly, let’s go, I hope this thing takes off and we play great. But if it doesn’t, you just knew what was going to happen. They were going to tear it down and rebuild,” Stafford said. “And anytime you switch GMs and a head coach, you know that they’re going to want to bring their own people in, and that’s going to take time. And I, frankly, didn’t feel like I was the appropriate person to oversee that time.”
And so as previously reported, Stafford approached the Detroit Lions shortly after the 2020 season ended, as the Lions were in the middle of their coaching and general manager searches, and requested a trade. Stafford texted his wife before the meeting, filled with anxiety for the “toughest decision of his life.” But he was shocked by how open and willing the Lions were to accomodate his request.
“It was a tough conversation, probably the hardest one I’ve ever had, but one that I walked out of, frankly, blown away with their support and their understanding,” Stafford said. “The respect. I mean, it was pretty incredible.”
He also got full support from the first teammates he contacted, Taylor Decker and Frank Ragnow, who both said they’d miss him, but encouraged him to “go get a gold jacket,” referring to a possible Hall of Fame career still ahead of him.
Ultimately, Stafford knew the clock on his career was ticking, and he wanted to make that run at a Super Bowl, something he always wished he would’ve accomplished in Detroit.
“I’ve always wanted to play in those big games, I feel like I will excel in those situations,” he said. “I wanted to shoot my shot.”
The entire piece is worth a read, as it even goes into some details about injuries Stafford dealt with that we had no idea about, including a torn UCL in his elbow suffered on Thanksgiving.
Albom teases that Part 2 of his conversation with Stafford will be available on Sunday.