Matthew Stafford Is Quickly Building His Legacy with Detroit Lions

Matt Bowen@@IsItGameTimeYetAnalyst IIJune 24, 2012

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 30:  Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions looks on from the bench late in the game against the Denver Broncos Sports Authority at Invesco Field at Mile High on October 30, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Lions defeated the Broncos 45-10.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is becoming the franchise quarterback every NFL team dreams of—not only on the field, but off it as well. 

Stafford may be from Dallas, but he's rapidly becoming a legend in the city of Detroit. The 24-year-old has already shown that he's tough as nails, thrown for over 5,000 yards in a season and made the playoffs. More importantly, he's becoming a leader for the Lions in a philanthropic sense. 

After all, a franchise quarterback is someone that does more than record ridiculous numbers on Sundays—he's someone that makes a genuine impact in the community. 

This offseason alone, Stafford has shown that he's not all about the money and fame that comes with being selected No. 1 overall in the NFL draft; he's shown that he's a humanitarian with a good heart.

Stafford restructured his contract this offseason to open up cap space. What is remarkable is that he's set to make the league minimum in 2012. Sure, he's going to end up making $72 million by the time his rookie contract is complete, but the fact that a franchise quarterback has agreed to make the minimum $615,000 for a season in order for his team to become better is a testament to his dedication to winning.

He recently won an auction at a charity event this offseason only to give the $15,000 Monday Night Football package to a family in need. His latest public service project is promoting healthy eating habits in males. The state of Michigan has an obesity rate over 30 percent, and while Stafford may not change the minds of what adults choose to eat, he certainly can impact the future of adolescents. 

It's no secret that star athletes have a ridiculous amount of power, and too often they misuse that power and embarrass themselves and their fans. Stafford is the exact opposite.

This young man truly gets the responsibilities that come with being the face of the Lions' franchise and serving as a role model to millions of NFL fans. 

Pay attention to the meteoric rise to stardom that Stafford will endure in the 2012 season. This offseason is the first offseason since his rookie year that he's been healthy. He threw for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns in 2011 only to be discredited by many critics. Stafford has the most dynamic wide receiver in NFL history in Calvin Johnson, who seems to get all the credit.

This season is when Stafford will begin to get the attention he deserves. 

Lions receiver Nate Burleson believes that Stafford has gotten better this offseason, and that fact is downright scary. The numbers Stafford could put up in his career could be historic, but fans won't see his ego inflate. Not only will he become respected for his work on the field, but he'll also become a spokesman for the NFL for his positive influence off of it. 

Lions' fans couldn't be more proud of their quarterback. The city of Detroit has been through many dark days, and Stafford is a reason to believe that the Motor City will shine once again.