It is his 13th season in the NFL, and the former No. 1 overall pick of the Detroit Lions in the 2009 NFL Draft has shouldered great expectations ever since he arrived in the NFL.
He turns 34 on February 7 so if he follows the Tom Brady path, he could be playing for another 10 years.
Here is a look back at how he got to this point.
12 Seasons With The Lions
Stafford played 165 career regular-season games as a Detroit Lion.
He threw 282 touchdowns and 144 interceptions.
There were seasons when he carried those Lions teams on his back often with limited offensive resources and protection at his disposal.
Of course, there were exceptions like wide receiver Calvin Johnson, but in general, the Lions struggled mightily during his 12 seasons.
Stafford gave the Lions everything he had plus some.
When Matthew Stafford played through a hurt shoulder to score a game-winning touchdown.
— NFL (@NFL) January 27, 2022
He made three playoff appearances and was one-and-done each time.
Stafford left the Lions without ever winning a playoff game.
1 Season With The Rams
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 31, 2022
2021 got started with a splash as the Rams and Lions announced the blockbuster trade that swapped quarterbacks Jared Goff and Stafford and draft picks.
This was always viewed as Stafford’s big chance to be a member of a great team that was loaded on offense and defense with a dynamic young head coach in Sean McVay.
Stafford came in and did exactly what was expected.
The Rams won 12 games, and Stafford threw 41 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
Matthew Stafford played his entire career for the Lions and didn’t win a single playoff game. Leaves Detroit, immediately wins three playoff games and is going to the Super Bowl.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) January 31, 2022
In the postseason, Stafford has already won three games to offset the three Lions losses.
He is now poised to play and win the biggest game of his football career in front of a home crowd at SoFi Stadium.
The lights are bright, but Stafford has worked hard to get here and will continue to deliver by turning in a high-quality Super Bowl performance, win or lose.
Doing What Barry Sanders And Calvin Johnson Could Not Do
Before 2021, Stafford was lumped together with all-time great Detroit Lions players who never got to the Super Bowl.
Hall of Famers Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson did not get the chance Stafford has.
They too were among the most talented players on the Lions’ teams they played on.
This redemption for Stafford sheds light on what could have been for Sanders or Johnson had they been given this opportunity.
To ruin 3 players careers just shows how embarrassing the Lions organization is (Barry Sanders, Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford). Football is pain.
— Gage McGill (@GageMcgill) February 1, 2022
Bittersweet For Lions Fans
Stafford did not burn his bridges.
He has always been gracious to the city of Detroit and the Lions organization.
What was your initial reaction when you found out #9 was no longer a Detroit Lion?
— Woodward Sports Network (@woodwardsports) January 30, 2022
Many will be wearing their Stafford Lions jerseys on Super Bowl Sunday.
I’m always going to be a Lions fan. I think most other Matthew Stafford defenders are always going to be Lions fans, too.
Stafford is our guy, even if he’s not here anymore. We want to see him win.
If you disagree, I get it. I’m not mad at you for that.
Me, I want 9 to win.
— Tony Dombrowski (@tonydombrowski) January 24, 2022
Though they want Stafford to achieve this career pinnacle, they wish it could have happened for him and them with the Lions.
He’s a Lions fan but was so hyped for Matthew Stafford 😂👏
(via hallberrgg/IG) pic.twitter.com/AJk345QLTv
— ESPN (@espn) January 24, 2022
It will not be shocking to see spectators at SoFi Stadium in Stafford’s Lions jersey on Super Bowl Sunday to watch him in person.
That is a testament to who he is and how gracious he was and is to his fans.NEXT: Matthew Stafford Has Always Been Capable Of This Success