The Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams will play a football game on Sunday, but the scope of things will seem much bigger than that given what will play out otherwise.
Both teams share several ties given what played out over the offseason. General manager Brad Holmes came from Los Angeles, as did defensive tackle Michael Brockers. Then, there’s the little matter of the biggest deal of the NFL offseason playing out, which saw quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff switch sides.
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Stafford and Goff will each be dealing with plenty of different emotions as they face off against their former teams, and who better to encapsulate those feelings than Dan Campbell, a guy who played nine seasons in the NFL for four different teams.
Speaking on Wednesday, October 20, Campbell was asked about the showdown and provided some interesting perspective. As he said, there’s an extra level for quarterbacks playing old teams and some definite things to think about, but at the end of the day, football has to be football.
“It’s on a higher level when you play quarterback and you’ve kind of been the guy. When you’re the quarterback for the organization, really both of them for a period of time, there does come some emotions that come with it,” Campbell said. “I don’t care who you are, when you’ve played for a team for a number of years and you go to play them again, there’s mixed emotions. You want to win but there’s so many people that you remember and were good to you and you’ll never forget them. So there’s a lot that comes with it. I think at the end of the day, when it’s time to kick off, from this point on, it’s all about ‘what is my job description?’ ‘What do I need to do for my team to get us ready to go?’ Then once it kicks off, it’s all ball, and focus on the job at hand and the play that’s right in front of you and the series that’s right in front of you. It has to be that way.”
Stafford started his career in Detroit and played there for 11 years. That was the same situation for Goff, who was the Rams’ quarterback for 4 years. All things considered, dramatic changes like this don’t often happen in football, so the players are likely to be thinking about a lot of things before and even perhaps during the game.
Campbell: Stafford Handled Trade ‘Like a Pro’
Most folks understand by now the dynamics that were at play when the Lions elected to deal away Stafford this past offseason. The quarterback went to ownership and told them it was time, and the sides quickly agreed on finding the right deal to move him out of town. A few weeks later, the deal was done with the Rams.
As Campbell reiterated, the writing was on the wall with Stafford this past offseason, and the Lions made the best decision for all parties involved.
“To me, I think it was very evident it was time. I think you just know, when you’re hearing all that, you know where the mindset is. That’s OK. That’s where it was going to go and there was no need to try and push it somewhere it wasn’t going to be. Both parties, we made the move we did, he handled it like a pro, he’s doing great out there right now and unfortunately we got to face him now.”
The 5-1 Rams are looking dominating thus far in 2021, while the 0-6 Lions are near the bottom of the league. Even such, it sounds obvious that the writing was always on the wall about a potential trade. For this reason, there’s no looking back about the move for either side.
Stafford Talks Feelings About Impending Lions Game
For his part, Stafford admitted he was planning to keep things low-key the week he would face his former team. Speaking after Sunday’s game on October 17, Stafford was asked about playing Detroit. As he said in an interview posted to TheRams.com, he is going to treat the game like any other even as he has a big history with the team and does plan to connect with his former side.
“(I’ll treat it) just like every other game. It’s an NFL opponent coming into our building. Do I have a ton of history with them? Absolutely. Im pregame am I going to be saying hey to some old teammates, some friends, Ford family hopefully if they make the trip? Absolutely. I’ve got nothing but great relationships with people over there. I have a lot of respect for the organization, the team, the ownership. It will be just another football game once the ball is snapped, but I will definitely try to say hey to some people I haven’t seen in a while.”
While players want to think emotion might not play a role, there will likely be a lot on the mind for Stafford and Goff regardless.
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