We’ve mostly avoided talking about the Matthew Stafford storylines this week, because, frankly, we were over it weeks ago when it looked like the Detroit Lions could be hosting the Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. So once that became a reality, the narratives had already been spun, and I could sense Lions fans were already sick of it.
But now that the moment is mere hours away, let’s face this head on. It’s unavoidable. The quarterback of this franchise for 12 years is coming back, and he’s going to do everything he can to prevent the Lions from advancing to the divisional round of the playoffs for the first time since 1991.
As much as I try to deny it, this does indeed bring up conflicted emotions. For over a decade, this man gave everything he could to the city of Detroit. He was my favorite player since Barry Sanders, and I bought the man’s jersey after he eventually won a Super Bowl with Los Angeles. Quite frankly, I absolutely despise that he’s now in a position to knock my team out of the playoffs. I hate it as much as I hate the fact that the only narrative of this game seems to be Stafford’s return to Detroit and Jared Goff vs. Sean McVay.
Now don’t get it twisted. My allegiance lies with the Lions 100%. I hope Stafford fails in every single way possible Sunday night. This franchise has shown me what the other side of success feels like, and now I’m insatiable. I don’t just want a playoff win, I NEED it. On this Sunday morning, nothing else matters.
For some people, the possibility of beating Stafford only adds more fuel to their fire. It would be a very symbolic way to break from the past—yet another era of Lions football defined by failure. It may not have been Stafford’s fault that this team accomplished next to nothing during his time in Detroit—or at least not mostly his fault—but fair or not, the quarterback is totem of the franchise, and burying that totem would undoubtedly be cathartic to many Lions fans.
That has very little significance to me. This team doesn’t need a symbolic win or an exorcising of demons to destroy the past. They’ve already done it. They’ve already matched this franchise’s record win total. They’re consistently breaking team records that haven’t been touched since the 1950s. They’ve knocked divisional rivals out of the playoff race, and raised their first banner in three decades. If the Lions lose to Stafford on Sunday, it’s not their past catching up with them, it’s the natural progression of a franchise: the losses are going to hurt more because they actually mean something.
I have meandered from the question of the day here, because clearly I’ve had a lot of pent-up thoughts about this game that needed to be flushed. In short, it sucks that it has to be this way, but let’s beat the hell out of Stafford and the Rams—not because it frees us from some invisible curse forever. Because that’s straight up nonsense anyways. You know at the first sign of struggle beyond this game, the SOLers are going to come out even if they do win on Sunday.
Instead, let’s win this game because this is a damn good football team that should win this game and bigger things are ahead.
But today’s Question of the Day is:
Should Lions fans boo Matthew Stafford?
My answer: I’m not here to police how you should be a Lions fan. There is no “correct” way to be a Lions fan. You can wear your Lions Matthew Stafford jersey, or you could burn it. I don’t care, and I wouldn’t judge you either way (I’d judge you a little for burning it instead of donating it. I’d judge you even more if you posted video of you burning of your jersey to social media for attention).
As for booing, I personally wouldn’t, but I don’t really ever boo. I don’t think Stafford should receive any special treatment; he’s the opposing quarterback, after all. But I suspect Stafford will get booed the first time his name is announced and that’s fine, I guess. If it helps you move on, go for it.
But I think most Lions fans respect the hell out of Stafford and everything he did for this franchise and city. If you want to put that aside and boo the hell out of the man because he’s the enemy this week, that makes perfect sense. If you’d rather sit quietly and just pray he doesn’t beat the Lions, I get it.
At the very least, though, let’s make the man uncomfortable and get loud as hell when he’s in the huddle.