The franchise shouldn’t have asked the Hall of Famer to return the $1.6 million signing bonus after abruptly retiring in 2015.
The presenting of his Hall of Fame ring at halftime during their game against the Baltimore Ravens does not mend the rift between player and team.
This mishandling of Johnson’s career may trigger another curse that will prolong the Lions’ futility.
On the other hand, Matthew Stafford has the right to feel the same way as well.
Like Johnson, the Lions mishandled his career by failing to build around him.
Other than Megatron, Stafford did not receive much help during his tenure there.
He became a Pro Bowler and Comeback Player of the Year with meager roster upgrades.
A Warrior At Quarterback
Regardless of who plays, the Texas native always came out to play even if he was not 100 percent healthy.
Like an actual lion, Stafford kept on fighting despite nursing physical injuries.
Win or lose, Stafford always led the Lions unless the doctors told him otherwise.
I watched, with my own eyes Matthew Stafford play with:
Torn throwing hand ligaments
Physically as tough as they come. Mentally-tougher. No one can question that. https://t.co/hZV16W0xqN
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) February 4, 2021
He missed only 27 games in his 12 seasons in Detroit and performed at a high level every time he took the field.
Stafford had eight 4,000-yard seasons with the Lions, including his stellar 2011 campaign.
That year, the then-third-year player from Georgia became the fifth member of the 5,000-yard club when he finished with 5,038 passing yards and 41 touchdowns.
In his final year with Detroit, Stafford tallied 4,084 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Stafford And The Lions Separated Amicably
Perhaps conscience got the better of Lions principal owner Shiela Ford Hamp and new head coach Dan Campbell.
The team is undergoing another rebuilding phase, and they didn’t want Stafford to waste his career with an uncompetitive roster.
Well, that’s the charitable spin to the split between Stafford and his first team.
Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff face their former teams on Sunday.
Rams head coach Sean McVay admitted this week he could have handled the trade better pic.twitter.com/XCISgfWeue
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) October 20, 2021
But maybe, they wanted a shift at quarterback, given his injury history.
They thought that getting a younger quarterback was the best way to go.
Stafford has no complaints because he’s already in a better situation.
The Rams Struck Gold With Stafford
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay lost faith in Jared Goff and traded for Stafford.
The Rams paid a king’s ransom for that exchange but there’s no doubt they won the swap.
That trade alone opened up the floodgates for McVay’s offense.
Gone are the criticisms about trading Goff despite signing him to a contract extension.
There’s no denying that the Rams are exponentially better with Stafford on board.
HenDO IT AGAIN!
— ESPN Los Angeles (@ESPNLosAngeles) October 17, 2021
Their offense has become more free-flowing and Cooper Kupp is now one of the best receivers in the league.
That’s a far cry from the stagnant offensive drives and low-scoring games last season.
Thank goodness they had an elite defense that kept the other team from scoring more points.
Meanwhile, the Lions are still winless after six games, including some gut-wrenching losses to the Ravens and the Minnesota Vikings.
Business As Usual For Stafford
Ironically, the Rams and the Lions will face each other Week 7 at SoFi Stadium.
Stafford will share some handshakes and quick conversations with his former teammates before and after the game.
But once the game starts, pleasantries are set aside, and Stafford hopes to get another win.
Matthew Stafford ahead of facing the Lions: "I'm extremely happy to be here."
"As far as comparing it to Detroit, I'm not gonna do it," he said. "I loved my time in Detroit. I loved all of my experiences – some of them were tough, but they helped mold me." pic.twitter.com/hGwbGe817Y
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) October 21, 2021
Defeating his former team will keep the Rams in striking distance with the undefeated Arizona Cardinals.
Stafford means business, not vendetta, because he wants to make the playoffs after a five-year absence.
It just so happens that the Lions are an obstacle in his path.