Football should be fun
Are we having fun yet?
In NFL news headlines at the end of January 2021, the announcement was made that the LA Rams had traded quarterback Jared Goff, a 2021 fourth-round pick, a 2022 first-round pick, and a 2023 first-round pick to the Detroit Lions for quarterback Matthew Stafford. Like the trade for defensive back Jalen Ramsey two years prior, the Rams gave up a lot to get someone who could make a difference for the team. An offensive player whose 12 year NFL career had run its course with the Detroit Lions.
Matthew Stafford’s 75-90-1 career record with the Detroit Lions did not reflect his talent or leadership. But it did reflect something that had become almost unbearable for him. He was playing a game as though it was a job. 12 years of struggle, with only four of twelve seasons ending with a winning record, had become too hard, too painful. The sport he loved was not fun anymore.
Matthew Stafford and his family have a great deal of love and respect for the Detroit Lions, and the people of Detroit. But after 12 NFL seasons, he had come to the fork in the road. He was a competitor by nature. But winning football games was just too few and far between anymore. The Detroit Lions were rebuilding again, starting over. This time, the team would need to do so without its veteran quarterback. Matthew Stafford was traded to the LA Rams.
Some promoted the move as an ideal situation for the LA Rams and Matthew Stafford. A team that was built to win now just acquired a quarterback that was ready to win now. For the LA Rams, they did not just deal for a quarterback. The team acquired an innovator/improviser in the pocket, a quarterback who could diagnose what the defense was doing and rework the situation to gain positive yardage until the coaches could assess and develop countermeasures.
For Matthew Stafford? It was a much simpler quest. He wanted to compete again. He wanted to re-experience the joy of playing football, not just showing up, leading the offense, losing, and going home.