The Los Angeles Rams made headlines with their blockbuster acquisition of former Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford to begin the offseason. Although the opportunity to begin a new chapter of his career with a contender in L.A. was certainly ideal, it did not come without its bittersweet moments.
After all, Stafford was a former No. 1 pick by Detroit and spent 12 seasons serving as the face of a struggling franchise. While he was unable to enjoy any playoff success there, the gunslinger easily became the leading passer in franchise history.
Of course, the prospect of playing for the Rams in the same town as Los Angeles Dodgers star and childhood friend Clayton Kershaw was too good to pass up. Even if Stafford was ready to move on, this did not make the move any easier for him.
The Lions made the playoffs just three times during Stafford’s tenure with the Lions. He admits that the allure of playing with a bona fide contender like the Rams was a major factor in his decision, via Sam Farmer of the L.A. Times:
“It’s been a while. We had some good teams in Detroit, and I’m excited every single year because I love playing this game. But those years we made the playoffs [2011, ’14 and ’16], I thought we had good teams. But I’m very excited about playing for this team, the Rams organization. I’m excited about trying to get to know these guys. To win as consistently as the Rams have won in the last four or five years, you’ve got to have good people. You can’t just have good players and good coaches. It’s a really fun thing for me to be a part of, just trying to immerse myself in the team.”
Stafford also revealed that the decision to move on was something that had taken root over time:
“It was tough. It wasn’t something that I thought about on a Friday and happened on a Saturday. It was something that I had spent some time thinking about. It started casually probably with just my wife and I. She saw everything I put into this game and that team and that city, everything I had given. She had a front-row seat for that. She would talk to me about it, we would talk to each other. ”
“It’s one of those things in life where you’ve got to make a decision. It wasn’t something that was easy for me. It was something that frankly could have backfired in my face. I could have said, “Hey, this is what I’m thinking,” and the Lions could have said, “Well, we don’t really care. You’re our guy for two more years and you’re going to see us through this thing.” I have to give them a ton of credit for their, I don’t know what the word is, open-mindedness or respect for me? It was probably a little bit of both. They were understanding to let it kind of happen or at least get the wheels turning on it.”
Stafford’s comments are certainly understandable. Even if the veteran felt like he still had plenty to offer in Detroit, he is at the point in his career where winning has now become a top priority.
The fact that Stafford has overcome his fair share of trials and tribulations is undoubtedly a positive sign for the Rams as he continues to get acquainted with the team.
L.A. may boast one of the most talented rosters on paper, but emerging as a Super Bowl contender does not happen without putting in the work and going through the necessary growing pains.