Typically, the Detroit Lions have not been one of the more player-friendly organizations through the years, but all of that seems to be changing in a big way moving forward.
The deal the franchise pulled off sending Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff and draft picks was a popular one, and that’s not just the case with the media. The players appreciated it in a big way as well.
The latest Lions news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lions newsletter here!
In fact, Stafford himself seems to be very pleased with where things stand and how things worked out. Recently, he joined the Rich Eisen Show and shed some further light on what went down this winter. As Stafford said, talks between him and the franchise were delicate, but in the end, a productive agreement was reached and it’s one he respects and appreciates at the end of the day.
“It was delicate no question. I talked to Rod Wood who is our team president and Sheila (Ford-Hamp), those were the two people I talked to. They’ve obviously been around me a while and understand where I was coming from. I think disappointed, but understanding and responsive and that was a good thing. Again, I just can’t say enough about the way they handled it. I hope they feel the same way about the way I did. I was just happy it worked out as smoothly as it did for me.”
As Stafford pointed out in the interview, he’s happy to not have any lingering animosity with the franchise, and vise versa. That’s something which isn’t all that common now in sports, and Stafford seems to appreciate that he doesn’t have to deal with that variable moving forward.
Stafford exits the Lions with no bad blood, and that’s great for the franchise and their fans moving forward.
Stafford Was ‘Torn’ Over Lions Exit
It’s clear that Stafford has some deep feelings about his exit from the Motor City and his time with his first franchise. As he explained in another piece with Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press, Stafford is excited for his new start, but remains partially torn over his exit because of the connection he still has with Detroit.
Stafford told Albom:
“Obviously, we were excited for a new start, excited for the whole process of being on the trading block to be over. Now we had a place. We knew where we were going. I was excited about their roster and their coaching staff and what they can bring to the table and their recent success.
“But at the same time, it was a close of the door in Detroit. At that moment it was real.”
Stafford did not take that lightly. His biggest worry, he says, was that the Lions or anyone else would think that he was turning his back on them.
“You know, I want nothing more than to be able to come back to this place 10 years from now and everybody welcome me with open arms. And that was one of the biggest things that was weighing on me as I went in there to talk to them. I was like, ‘I don’t want anybody to ever feel like I’m giving up on this town, or this city, or this place, I gave it everything I possibly had here.”
Stafford being afraid of not finishing the job or feeling as if he had begged out is not unwarranted, but it’s more than possible that he underestimated the amount of fan support he will have in the end, even as heads out of town. Clearly, it’s not a situation where Stafford is thrilled to be walking away, even as he realized it was time to do so.
Stafford-Goff Trade a Win-Win
For the Lions and the Rams, the Goff and Stafford deal can be seen as a win-win arrangement. When Stafford made it clear he didn’t want to stick around, the Lions simply managed to grab the best deal they had, and in landing Goff plus a pair of first-round picks, they made out as much as possible. Stafford gets to go to a winning team, Goff gets a shot at resurrecting a promising career and the Lions get the draft capitol they needed for their rebuild.
There is no reason the deal can’t be a success for both sides, and that’s what fans of each team are likely hoping to see happen in the years ahead.