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LIONS HAVE TRADED MY FAVOURITE NFL PLAYER BUT ...

My preferred National Football League team has traded away my favourite NFL player. That’s OK, though, as the Detroit Lions got an unexpectedly good haul for quarterback Matthew Stafford in dealing the soon-to-be 33-year-old to the Los Angeles Rams. In return for Stafford — who has spent his entire 12-year NFL career in Detroit — the Lions get first round draft picks in 2022 and 2023, a third rounder in 2021 and 26-year-old quarterback Jared Goff. It looms as a win-win for both teams. Stafford, who had requested a trade, goes to a Rams team that is laden with star players and is poised to once again be a contender for the 2021 season. And the Lions get a ransom return on a franchise player who got tired of the losing in Detroit. Now, with the extra draft picks as well as Goff to go with a new general manager in Brad Holmes, a new head coach in Dan Campbell and a completely overhauled coaching staff, the Lions can start a retool after three straight losing seasons under former field boss Matt Patricia. As a Lions fan and a season ticket holder of 10 years, the trade is a bittersweet one. Stafford is my favourite player to the extent that we named our dog after him. I so much wanted to see the Lions do well with Stafford as the QB but all they were able to do was make the playoffs three times in his 12 years in Detroit while never winning one of the post-season matches. But really, the Lions losing ways go way back to before the arrival of Stafford in 2009. Since winning the NFL championship in 1957, the Lions have only one playoff victory — and that came in 1992. That folks, is quite a mark of futility. And now, with the trade of Stafford to Los Angeles, the time-tested quarterback will still be my favourite player, even if the Rams won’t be my No. 1 team. For me, a perfect scenario will have Stafford leading the talent-laden Rams to the Super Bowl and Goff at least getting the Lions back to the .500 mark after three successive losing seasons of 6-10, 3-12-1 and 5-11. Meanwhile, Holmes, as the new Lions GM, has quite a history with Goff, having drafted him first overall for the Rams in 2016. And now, alongside new offensive co-ordinator Anthony Lynn, Goff will get to play a central role in the Lions rebuild under new head coach Campbell after failing out of favour with Rams field boss Sean McVay. Stafford’s stellar legacy in Detroit will speak for itself. Despite dealing with numerous nagging injuries, Stafford finished this past season with 4,084 yards — his most since 2017 — 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He departs Detroit with a host of franchise records including most career passing yards (41,025), highest career completion percentage (62.48%) and most career passing touchdowns (256) — numbers that overshadow his career record of 74-90-1 in 165 starts. As for Goff, he passed for 18,171 yards, 107 touchdowns and threw 55 interceptions over five seasons with the Rams. His best year came in 2018 — the second of his two Pro Bowl selections — when Goff passed for a career-high 4,688 yards en route to leading the Rams to a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl showdown against the New England Patriots. Goff leaves the Rams with a 42-27 record and three playoffs wins in seven games. One of his playoff losses was the Super Bowl setback to New England. Do I like the trade? Knowing that Stafford wanted out and given what the Lions were able to get for him, yes I do. The most the Lions were going to get for Stafford from any other team was a first round pick and a third. But in dealing with the Rams, the Lions were able to get two first round picks, a third — and a proven QB in Goff. Not bad. Not bad at all. As for my dog Stafford, are we going to change her name now that her namesake has been traded? Not a chance. But we might give our Stafford a middle name. How does Stafford Goff Russon sound? Hmmmmmm.

Randy Russon February 2, 2021 Column
LIONS HAVE TRADED MY FAVOURITE …

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