Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford doesn’t get enough credit. It’s not easy playing for the Lions (just ask Barry Sanders), but he’s done it for 10 seasons and could likely retire at Ford Field. Maybe most impressive of all, Stafford’s carried the bungling franchise to three playoff appearances and has made 128-straight starts — the sixth-longest streak among active players — including the entire 2018 NFL season.
The report surfaced from longtime Lions beat writer Mike O’Hara, who said on a recent episode of his weekly podcast with WJR’s Ken Brown that Stafford played with “broken bones in his back,” and the “tiny fractures” were later confirmed on Twitter by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Late last year, Stafford began showing up on the Detroit Lions’ injury report with an unspecified back injury, which caused him to participate in limited fashion during the final few weeks. Still, Stafford never missed a game. He also didn’t throw an interception over the final four games of the year against the Cardinals, Bills, Vikings, and Green Bay Packers.
Stafford’s numbers were down, in part due to a broken freakin’ back, but also because of added emphasis on running the football. For the first time since 2013 — when Reggie Bush ran for 1,006 yards — Detroit finished with over 400 rushing attempts as a team.
A lot of NFL fans criticize the No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft for not doing enough in Detroit. Well, aside from being the youngest QB with five touchdowns passes in a game (21 years, 288 days), setting the NFL record for passing attempts (727) in a single season, holding the NFL record for most fourth quarter comeback wins (8) in a season, and being the fastest player in NFL history to reach 30,000 career passing yards (109 games), I’d say the 31-year-old has more than earned the $135 million contract extension Detroit game him back in 2017.
And if you don’t believe that, well, go to work with a broken back for a month and let me know how you feel. Because that’s exactly what Stafford did last season, and he never called in sick.