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The complicated feelings of a Detroit Lions fan watching Matthew Stafford succeed

There’s a lot going on inside after watching Matthew Stafford win his way to a Super Bowl in his first year outside of Detroit.

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

I usually try to hide my emotions when it comes to the Detroit Lions. I do that to look professional and not look like a fanboy. Sometimes that doesn’t work and my feelings show through. Sometimes I just say, “Damn that,” and put it all out there. This is one of those times.

One year ago, the Lions traded away my favorite Lions player off all time. I was upset. I’m still upset, to be honest. I told myself that day that I was going to shrug it off no matter what happened. The plan was to act like I didn’t care until I started to believe that I didn’t. I was getting pretty good at it. On Sunday, Matthew Stafford led the Rams to the Super Bowl in a win over the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. I can’t hide my feelings anymore. This is what’s going through my head right now.

First off, I’m sad. I’m not going to lie. I’m really sad. I see a large amount of Lions fans cheering Stafford on and that’s cool. But it has felt wrong to me. I had dreams about Matthew Stafford hoisting the NFC Championship trophy over his head. I had dreams about Kelly Stafford hugging people in the suite while wearing Lions gear. I had dreams about the commentators talking about how the Lions were doing the improbable. I had dreams about that commercial after the game where the NFL tries to sell Lions merchandise with “Lions 2021 NFC Champions” splashed all over it. Now it feels like someone else is living my dream and that sucks. I wish this was the Lions moment, and it hurts that it’s not. It hurts that it just keeps not happening.

Then I feel a sense of pride in Matthew Stafford that I tried really hard not to feel. We watched this kid grow up in Detroit. We saw all these magical moments like the separated shoulder game, the Stafford sneak, his perfect game against the Saints, clinching the franchise’s first playoff berth in over a decade in Stafford’s third season, all the comebacks and so much more. On Sunday, you saw a grown man—once just a scruffy-haired chubby kid—go out an achieve his goal. Even if it wasn't with the Lions, I can see how Lions fans can be happy about it.

For a long time I looked at Matthew Stafford with the Rams as an ex-girlfriend who dumped you and then started dating Channing Tatum and became a billionaire. You’re just thinking about all the things you should have done to keep her. I see it differently today. Matthew Stafford is our daughter and we gave her away at the wedding. Now we’re sitting back watching her grow, and we’re happy that her husband doesn't suck. It’s okay to be happy about Matthew Stafford succeeding. Let yourself be happy if you’re not already doing it. We raised this kid. They grow up so damn fast.

Then I feel a sense of personal pride, too. Matthew Stafford has been an important part of my career. I personally feel like I’ve written the book on Matthew Stafford over the course of my first seven years in this crazy business. I spent thousands of words trying to convince people that Matthew Stafford was legit, and now I’m vindicated. Now I can say, “I told you so” and you just have to sit there and listen to it.

I will be cheering for Matthew Stafford to win the Super Bowl in a couple weeks. I’ll be cheering to see him say that he’s going to Disneyland—even if it is just cheering for someone else to live my dreams. But, hey, this is our daughter we’re talking about here. If Stafford winning the NFC Championship was giving him away at the wedding, then the Super Bowl is Stafford making us grandparents. This, of course, will result in our golden years. Which means the Lions are going to win the Super Bowl soon.

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