2011 Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford's Key to Success? Think Steve Austin
The answers to the above questions are—yes, no, I don't think so and are you kidding me?
I am referring to the other Steve Austin. The one who actually came before the wrestler.
Do you remember the Six Million Dollar Man?
This was a very popular television series that ran from 1974 to 1978. The premise was that of an astronaut who was seriously injured when he crashed his "lifting body" Northrop HL-10 aircraft. The show's greatest tag line was, "We can rebuild him...we have the technology." This would begin a six million dollar project to give Austin a bionic right arm, both legs and a right eye.
If Matthew Stafford, the franchise quarterback for the Detroit Lions, had a television series, they would have to raise the cost of rebuilding to 42 million dollars.
What? Inflation affects everyone. Besides, he's only guaranteed about 17 million.
Stafford had surgery on his right shoulder earlier this year and on one of his knees late in 2009. As far as we know, there have been no reports of any bionic engineering involved in his surgeries, but this does not mean it won't have the same effect.
While playing for the Georgia Bulldogs, Matthew Stafford was regarded as being a very durable player. He had zero serious injuries during his tenure there. He was also known to have a gun for an arm and great instincts at the quarterback position.
Stafford's reputation as a tough QB and accurate passer is what elevated him to the No. 1 draft pick for the Detroit Lions in 2009.
Some have questioned how strong his throwing arm will be post-injury and surgery, and if missing 19 games out of his first 32 will impact his development as an NFL QB. To these people, I would first recommend listening to what Dr. Andrews, the surgeon who performed the procedure on Stafford's shoulder, has to say about his arm strength.
"Matthew's procedure (AC joint repair) today was very successful. It went very well," Dr. Andrews said in a statement on Jan. 21 that was released by the team. "We now have plenty of time for a full recovery in order for him to get ready for next season. The procedure is the same one that we have successfully performed on a number of NFL quarterbacks. Matthew has one of the strongest arms in the league, and I am confident that he will be as strong as ever." (Last sentenced italicized by me for effect.)
Next, I would recommend listening to what Jim Schwartz, the head coach of the Detroit Lions, has to say about any concerns raised about Stafford's development.
"I've heard a lot of people talk about young quarterbacks and the potential of missing offseason workouts and how it sets them back in their development," he said. "I know enough about Matt to know we're not really talking about that."
"We're talking about his health, not that he needs to learn the offense or he needs to become a more accurate thrower or he needs to learn the defenses or his work ethic needs to get better. He's not dealing with issues like that. He's dealing with the ability to be on the field and we are confident he is going to get that behind him."
Matthew Stafford has personally addressed the topic of people suggesting that he is "injury prone."
"Not really," he said when it was suggested to him that sustaining three major injuries in 11 games might lead some to call him injury prone. "Those were pretty perfect hits. I just got dropped on my shoulder pretty hard both times. I wouldn't call it injury prone; more like weird, freaky injuries."
This brings us back to Steve Austin and Stafford's own reparative surgeries.
Stafford having surgery on his right throwing shoulder is actually good news for the Lions.
After Stafford injured his right shoulder the first time when sacked by Julius Peppers of the Chicago Bears on Sept. 12, he was trying to allow it to heal without surgery. Dr. Andrews felt the injury could probably heal on its own, given enough time.
It was time that Stafford chose not to take after he re-injured his shoulder against the Jets on Nov. 7.
Will Matt Stafford be 100% this season?
It is likely that the Lions, or Stafford himself, chose for him to come back too soon when he opened against the Jets. Stafford actually hurt his shoulder twice during this game. The first time was during the second quarter, but instead of heading to the sideline, he played through the injury and the pain. Finally, when he was tackled hard in the fourth quarter, he and his shoulder had reached the limit and he was out the rest of the season.
Stafford's surgery was not to make it tolerable for him to throw, it was to repair the damage to his throwing shoulder. He followed the rehab regiment and is now throwing the football again. If you haven't heard this a thousand times already, he recently tweeted that he getting "real close to 100 percent" in his recovery.
If Matthew Stafford gets his throwing arm back to 100 percent, I would propose we should see nothing short of the 42 million dollar man that he was always projected to be. This surgery could actually be a gift for Stafford and for the entire Detroit Lions franchise. Why?
Because we have rebuilt him....we had the technology.
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