‘Tough Deal:’ Matthew Stafford Opens up on Lions Exit for First Time

Matthew Stafford

Getty Matthew Stafford celebrates a touchdown in Jacksonville.

Matthew Stafford had a trade rock his world a few weeks back, and now that everything has had the proper time to sink in, the former Detroit Lions quarterback has begun to break his silence on what happened and what’s next.

After a deal which will send Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for Jared Goff as well as a 2022 first-round pick, a 2023 first-round pick and a 2021 third-round pick, Stafford agreed to an exit interview with WDIV and reporter Hank Winchester.

As the quarterback said, the decision to leave Detroit wasn’t an easy one at all, and the talk he had with the team leading up to the move were amongst the most difficult he had in his life.

Stafford said:

“Probably the hardest conversation I’ve ever had in my life. It was a really tough deal. I’ve got to give the Lions a bunch of credit for the way they handled it. I have all the respect in the world for the Ford family. It was mutual. It was something I think that we both talked about. I think they wanted to see where my head was, and I obviously expressed that to them and they understood.”

From the beginning, it seemed as if the Lions and Stafford had agreed to a mutual parting, and that was what was described when the news broke at the time. For those thinking Stafford wanted out or begged out, that is simply not the case either. His vocal inflections show a guy who has struggled with the reality of the decision for a while considering all the city means to him and his family.

Matthew Stafford ‘Torn’ Over Lions Exit

It’s clear that Stafford has some deep feelings about his exit from the Motor City. 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.

Herman Moore Appreciated Lions Approach With Matthew Stafford

As Stafford confirmed in this chat, the decision to leave was a collaborative effort and one he has to give credit to the Lions for. All of that matters greatly in the scope of things according to former Lions wideout Herman Moore. Moore was interviewed recently by Brad Galli of WXYZ-TV and explained that given where the Lions have come from as an organization, it’s good to see things changing with regards to treatment of former players like Stafford.

Moore said:

“My view is, whether the Lions will own up to it or not, they’ve had a history of not gracefully allowing players to exit the organization. It hasn’t always been in the way in which you saw what happened with Stafford to where both sides are agreeing and talking publicly about there may be a way in which they’re going to part ways. It’s not just your star players, it’s your players in general. I think it sets the tone and sets the example. I was very glad to see that, that was wonderful. I can identify wth Calvin and Barry. I soured on the organization at some point and I’m sure they soured on me. But it’s good to see this change a little bit.”

Obviously, for Moore, the hope is that the franchise has learned from their past mistakes and have begun to own up to it with Stafford and others. That’s only a positive for the future moving forward.

Clearly, as Stafford explained, it mattered to him as well. It will be tough to see him go, but all Lions fans can do is wish him well and look forward to the future on their end.

READ NEXT: Lions Free Agent Could Team up With Matthew Stafford

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