Matthew Stafford never gave much thought to trade rumors earlier this year, saying Thursday he had always prepared as if he would still be the Detroit Lions‘ quarterback this season and, he hopes, for many seasons to come.
Stafford had conversations with general manager Bob Quinn and coach Matt Patricia about the rumors, but he said he stopped thinking about them in a snap — while actually snapping his fingers on a Zoom conference call with reporters.
The rumors had started because of some since-debunked local and national media reports as well as the possibility that the Lions would draft Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, something that never happened.
“I really don’t pay too much attention to ’em,” Stafford said of the rumors. “I pay less attention to them than my wife does. But it’s something that doesn’t bother me. I’m here. I want to be here. I love being a Detroit Lion. I love leading this team.
“So all that kind of stuff is just kind of out there to be out there. It’s a slow news month at that point, and I’m just happy to be where I am and ready to deal with this offseason the way it is and try to make the best of the season that I hope happens.”
Stafford is hopeful there will be a 2020 NFL season and is preparing as though it will start on time. If it doesn’t, he said it’ll just give him more time to prepare. His back, which cost him the second half of the 2019 season, is fully healthy, and his injuries the past two seasons have reminded him how much he likes playing.
Not knowing what the season could look like is “unsettling,” but he is preparing in the usual way as much as he can. He built a gym in his garage and throws down the street from his home. And if the season doesn’t start on time, he’ll deal with it when that happens.
Pre-pandemic, he spent time in California throwing with Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola. After the COVID-19 crisis started, Amendola went to Georgia to work out with Stafford for four or five days. The quarterback has also gotten in local workout sessions recently with rookies D’Andre Swift and Quintez Cephus, along with tight end Isaac Nauta.
“I love playing football,” Stafford said. “I don’t know what I would do in a fall without it, as I think a lot of Americans probably would say the same. But being involved with the game, I love it, and I’m hoping it is safe enough for all of us to get back out there.
“I don’t want to put people at undue risk for us to go play a game. But at the same time, if we can find a way to make it safe for everybody, I would love to obviously be out there as soon as we can.”
Stafford has also made adjustments to his own style, making “conscious efforts trying not to lick my fingers before I get the ball or throw it. All those kinds of things are things that I would have never thought I would have had to think about, but at the moment, I am.”
He’s also limited contact as much as possible, including sometimes clicking cleats at the end of a workout instead of a high-five or fist bump.
Stafford said that playing without fans in 2020 would “be an adjustment, no question,” but because he likes silence, it could be easier for him than for others. Receivers, running backs and other players who run a lot, on the other hand, tend to feed off the crowd noise.
“Without the fans, maybe that would be a different challenge for those guys,” Stafford said. “When Danny was in town, we were talking about it. Maybe they need to play music or something, just to get you [going]. It’s like going for a long run with no music or whatever it is, it’s just different.”
In the meantime, Stafford has stayed home with his pregnant wife, Kelly, and his three children after traveling to California and then Florida before the pandemic began. He expressed amazement at the amount of energy his wife has while taking care of three kids under 5 and being pregnant with their fourth child. The pandemic has allowed for “as much dad time as I’ve ever had,” he said. “It’s been awesome.”
They haven’t left the house much and mostly have had things delivered, in part, because of Kelly’s pregnancy and the unknowns surrounding COVID-19.
“We’re just trying to make sure we’re doing whatever we possibly can to limit our exposure,” Stafford said. “… We’re trying to stay sane and still have a little bit of fun here and there.”
For fun, Stafford created a math illusion with retired offensive lineman T.J. Lang in a video that went viral. After his portion of the Zoom call ended, Stafford returned to the call to chide reporters for not asking about the trick — and then revealed that it was fake.
“I can’t believe you guys fell for the math trick,” Stafford said. “T.J. and I have been doing that for years. He texted me the answer beforehand, and I just read it off and sell it hard.
“I mean, I guess I deserve a Daytime Emmy, but for sure, not a math award.”
Source : ESPN