Matthew Stafford Interview: Detroit Lions QB Says Fans Are Highly Passionate

John Farrier@GriffWings UnitedCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2010

The No. 1 Overall Pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, Detroit Lions Starting Quarterback Matthew Stafford (HäMMëR, Aug 4, 2010, Allen Park, MI)
The No. 1 Overall Pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, Detroit Lions Starting Quarterback Matthew Stafford (HäMMëR, Aug 4, 2010, Allen Park, MI)

If the earnest and sincerity in a young quarterback’s voice is enough to carry the Detroit Lions over to “the other side,” consider the move complete in the visage of second-year gunslinger Matthew Stafford.

The unassuming Detroit Lions starting quarterback, courtesy of AXE Hair, spent a few minutes this morning sharing his answers to some wide-ranging questions.

What can you tell us about what you’ve got going with AXE Hair these days? 

Well, I’ve been with AXE since the (2009 NFL) draft, and right now we’re promoting three new shampoos, as each does its own thing to get a guy ready for a night out:  AXE Heat Igniting Citrus 2 in 1 Shampoo + Conditioner, AXE Downpour Refreshing Mint Shampoo, and AXE Zen Soothing Tea Tree Shampoo.  I use the Zen shampoo to stay calm and keep my head in the game.

How is your health and are you ready to start against the Washington Redskins at Ford Field on Sunday, October 31, 2010? 

Getting better.  I’m going to practice through the bye week and if it reacts well, then hopeful to be starting against the Redskins the following week.

Who is the biggest character in the Detroit Lions locker room?  If you had to describe one of your teammates as “the largest child of the bunch,” who would that be? 

Louis Delmas.  He’s always doing something, acting up, being a character, and keeping it loose.

Describe your “offseason” process to the fans and what did you do in particular to get “better” at your craft during the 2010 season? 

We started the offseason in March and tried to be healthy for the season by lifting weights and running, but got “unlucky.”  I looked at every interception I threw and categorized them and will hopefully limit them going forward.

How accurate do you feel the “timer” is that is ticking in your head when you drop back to pass, and since the injury dealt by Julius Peppers, how will this affect your “internal clock” for the remainder of the 2010 season? 

No real effect at all.  The offensive line has done good job.

I think it is safe to say that most of us have never been hit by a guy the size of Julius Peppers.  Could you explain to the fans what that process is like?  It is hard to imagine getting planted by one of the elite defensive ends in the NFL. 

It’s not too much fun.  The size and speed combination is unbelievable.  Julius Peppers is probably 6’7” and 300 pounds.  The great players spend all year round training for 16 games.  It isn’t fun being on the receiving end.

How important have the offseason signings of Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams been to the 2010 Detroit Lions and what does it mean to the defensive line going forward? 

You know, I think it’s been big.  Kyle is obviously a leader on the field and plays harder than anybody I’ve ever seen and works hard off the field too. 

Corey works hard on the field also and is a great guy in the locker room, who does both.  They are helping Ndamukong Suh come along and helping Cliff Avril as well.

It appears that Brandon Pettigrew is starting to be properly utilized in the Linehan offense.  Is there anything in particular that you and Brandon worked on together during the offseason that helped to get him better prepared for an expanded role in 2010? 

Brandon started growing into that role last year but the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury hampered his growth.  He rehabbed hard, has played great, and has a chance to be a very good player for us down the road.

What is something you find interesting, outside of football, that if told to fans, they would be like, “What?”  What would Lions fans find odd or different about one of your obscure “likes?” 

Oh, God.  I’m a pretty normal guy.  I’m a golfer in the offseason, but nothing out of the ordinary.

You have taken some real “wallops” during your short NFL career, last year against Cleveland and this year against Chicago, raising durability concerns among the fanbase. 

You’re getting the “best shot” these defenders have, and we can see that they want to knock you out of the game.  Can you talk to the fans about your state of health presently and the outlook going forward?  Should fans be worried every time you go back to pass now, or have these injuries simply come at a bad time and in bunches? 

You know, I never missed a game in high school or in college.  We were trying to win the Cleveland game, so I put my body on the line to win it.  The tackle by Julius Peppers, it was kind of like the perfect hit.

Aside from football, what were some of your favorite activities you enjoyed with your dad? 

My dad was my coach in baseball, and early on in basketball, so playing baseball was something we always did.

Is playing football your everything or do you have room for other passions and interests, and if so, what would they be (aside from golf)? 

Yeah, it’s everything to me, and when the season is going there isn’t room for much else.

What have you learned about the people of Michigan, the city of Detroit, and the fans of the Detroit Lions since your arrival at Lions headquarters in Allen Park? 

I think they’re passionate fans that deserve a winner.  They’ve always been great to me when I’ve been out in public and have been very supportive.

What would be your personal message to the long-suffering fans of the Detroit Lions who have supported this franchise for a lifetime, for some forty or fifty years or more, and have yet to see their beloved franchise hoist the Lombardi trophy? 

We’re doing everything we can (to produce a winner on the field) since we’ve (Mayhew, Lewand, Schwartz, Stafford) been here, and where we’re going I like.  I think we’re trending in a good way.

Could you tell Lions fans how the “game upstairs” (up in the booth) helped your development as an NFL quarterback? 

It was fun.  I got to listen to the offensive coordinator talk the whole game, what defenses are trying to do to us, different things.  It was really helpful.

What do you learn from Gunther Cunningham? 

Practicing against his defenses in training camp helped to prepare for playing against different defenses and learning about playing against various blitz packages.

When will this team stop “pulling defeat from the jaws of victory?”  Is there an explanation for the plethora of penalties we are witnessing on Sunday afternoons?  What is the cause and what might be the cure?  Should Lions fans expect this to be the norm for this team as it finishes out the 2010 campaign?

 Some games we’ve done a better job at that than during others, sometimes we’re able to play better and overcome some of those obstacles, and sometimes we aren’t.  We’re just going to keep trying hard and try to get better at those things.

What are the factors that make play calling a nightmare for Scott Linehan?  When are they manifested and when do you see them? 

Third down and long is the toughest situation for any offensive coordinator in the NFL.  You try to be good on first (down) and second (down), and have been good converting on third down this season.  Scott’s done a good job, kept up with the Eagles, and stayed close with the other teams as well.

How many Super Bowl championships will you bring to the long-suffering fans of the Detroit Lions, and will you be a better NFL quarterback at Brett Favre’s age than he is presently? 

First, I’m not sure I’ll even be standing when I’m Brett Favre’s age; he’s done an awesome job.  I think it is a childhood dream to win one or two, and that’s what we’re trying to bring to the fans of Detroit.

How important is it for the team to get the road win at Buffalo, and at what point should Lions fans be able to expect the team to be able to travel and return as hailed victors? 

It’s something we want to do and something we’ve been trying to do.  We’ve been in the away games and need to get the road win at Buffalo.

Is Jim Schwartz really a heavy metal guy, or is he really a Paganini or Vivaldi kind of guy? 

Whenever I see him listening to something he’s always bobbing his head pretty good to it, so it must be something pretty hardcore.

Why do you think Martin Mayhew, Tom Lewand, and Jim Schwartz work well together and how do they create synergy for the organization?  Those guys are all on the same page; Mayhew, Lewand, and Schwartz are on the same page moving to a common goal.

Which Detroit Lions player has been the biggest surprise to you this season and why? 

I think Chris Houston.  At first teams went after him, but he picked off Favre, he picked of Rodgers, and teams started to go the other way.  It wasn’t a surprise in terms of him being a good player, just that I hadn’t had the chance to really see him play.

Do you think that the leadership and the players view success in terms of wins and losses, and if not, what might the criteria be against which success will be measured for the 2010 Detroit Lions? 

I think wins and losses, definitely.

Describe your relationship with your offensive linemen, and how has the addition of Rob Sims and Tony Scheffler helped the offensive line in 2010? 

It’s been great.  We have offensive line dinner on Thursday night and our relationship is great.  The addition of both Sims and Scheff has been very helpful.  Scheff is doing a good job and Rob Sims is doing a great job of solidifying the left guard position.

I joked light heartedly with Matthew in telling him how my friends and I agree that the Detroit Lions shouldn’t have to play both the opponent AND the referees during the same contest.  He agreed the Lions didn’t catch any breaks on the road, and haven’t caught many in general.

Among the feelings I took away from my interview with Matthew Stafford was his belief in the play and quality performance of his offensive line.  It sounds like he has an outstanding relationship with each of them and he states a high level of trust with them and in their several abilities.

A common thread I found with Matthew was “playing ball with dad.”  Matthew said he used to spend a lot of time with his dad playing baseball, and all throughout my youth I did the same. 

I couldn’t wait for “pops” to get home from the shop (Federal Mogul) so we could play catch (March through October anyway).  There might be another fellow Detroit Lions fan out there who can also identify.

Matthew Stafford knows the Detroit Lions fanbase to be a passionate bunch that is thirsty for and deserving of a winning football franchise.  He communicates well the Lions unified focus to bring championship-caliber football to market as soon as humanly possible.

You can tell he likes his teammates, and by his speech and ensuing aura, you can tell why his teammates like him.  There is a calm charisma at work that makes you like the guy, and by his demeanor seems like “one of us,” somebody you’d like to have as part of your “crew.”

I think Matthew Stafford feels very confident in the way the Detroit Lions leadership (Mayhew, Lewand, and Schwartz) is managing the problems they inherited, and Matthew is empowered in feeling that the organization is trending up.

By the same token, when asked about measuring success during the 2010 campaign, he said only wins matter in that regard.  If that be the case, a 1-5 record at the bye week break can scarcely be taken as a positive trend, unless someone is going to guarantee a complete reversal in the win-loss column during the second portion of this season.

Matthew Stafford sounds like a determined young leader with his head and his heart pointed in the right direction.  If only the rest of the club could put it all together on the field at the same time.

Now about those untimely penalties and those darned referees…