Matt Stafford is one of the most prolific quarterbacks in NFL history.
During his time with the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams, the 6-foot-3, 220 pound former Georgia Bulldogs quarterback has thrown for 49,995 yards heading into the 2022-2023 NFL season, a season he enters as the reigning Super Bowl champion quarterback of the league.
Stafford has thrown for over 4,000 yards nine times over the course of his career, and threw for a career-high 5,038 yards in 2011 with the Lions.
Most people know him as one of the league’s top gunslingers, but few realize how it all started in Detroit, with one of the scrappiest performances in NFL history.
It’s a performance that was immortalized by NFL films in what has now become its longest-running NFL game clip in history, and I was there to witness it all.
Stafford’s Herculean Performance Against the Browns in Detroit
The clip is shown below from NFL Films.
It shows Stafford as he throws a pass late in the game against the Browns and is hit hard by a Browns defender right as he lets the pass go.
With the Lions trailing late in the game, many fans began heading for the exits, although a large number still remained.
Myself and my friend Mike were among those left, even though I didn’t want to leave.
As we exited the stands, a loud buzz could be heard from the crowd.
We both turned around to watch, and what unfolded next was a scene for the history books as a badly injured Stafford recovered to throw a game-winning touchdown pass.
Matthew Stafford is one tough competitor.
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) March 19, 2021
The play was Exhibit A as to why many Lions fans felt that the quarterback like wasn’t he deserved during his time with the team.
He later went on to prove them right, winning the Super Bowl last season with Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp and the Los Angeles Rams in his first season with his new teammates.
Stafford threw for 4,886 yards to go with 41 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, and has cemented himself as a Hall-of-Famer in recent years.
His success is the payoff from many years of battling in Detroit, building the mental and physical toughness to succeed at the highest level.
For anyone going through something right now, stay strong — the best is yet to come, as Stafford and so many other athletes have demonstrated time and time again.