At the end of January, the Los Angeles Rams traded for quarterback Matthew Stafford, ushering in a new era of Rams football. It has been quite the journey for Stafford in his career, which now includes Los Angeles.
Matthew Stafford: The Early Years
Have you ever heard of Highland Park, Texas? In the affluent suburb four miles north of downtown Dallas circa 2005, the Highland Park Scots were about to take on the Marshall Mavericks for the Class 4A Division 1 Texas High School Championship. Many of the Scots faithful were upset at the choice of the venue, Tyler Rose Stadium, only holding a capacity of 12,000. Think about that, 12,000 fans attending a high school football game, but again this is Texas where football reigns king.
As excited as the Scots and Maverick fans were for the game, it quickly became anticlimactic. By halftime it was 42-0 with the Highland Park lead seemingly bigger than the state of Texas. In the end, many Maverick fans would gaze up at the final scoreboard in bewilderment at the sight of 59-0. This game would turn out to be the culmination of the nation’s top prep quarterback: Matthew Stafford. This rising star would now be on a new journey 857 miles to the east of Highland Park.
In 2006, the journey east was made to Athens, Georgia. The 2006 theme for this incarnation of Georgia Bulldogs football would be the search for a starting quarterback. By Week 8, Stafford would earn freshman of the week honors; with a 20-of-32, 267-yard, two-touchdown performance. In a late season matchup with Auburn, the former high school standout would again earn freshman of the week honors; completing 14-of-20 passes for 219 yards and one touchdown, along with rushing for 83 yards and a rushing touchdown. The young kid from Texas would finish the 2006 season with a win in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Entering the 2007 season, the sophomore would be fully entrenched as the starting quarterback, leading Georgia to a resounding Sugar Bowl victory, and posting an 11-2 record. This would be the best Georgia season since 2002.
The 2008 season would usher in high praise for the junior quarterback. Chosen as a preseason Heisman favorite to watch list, he then posted a Georgia all- time best 25 touchdown passes along with second most in Georgia history 3,459 yards. He went on to earn All-America honors and was named MVP of the Capital One Bowl. The junior football slinger now had a life changing decision to make. Stay at school or declare early for the 2009 NFL draft?
Matthew Stafford’s NFL Career
With the decision now made to declare early for the 2009 NFL Draft, Stafford was thought by many to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. With the first pick, the Detroit Lions made those thoughts a reality. Another culmination in the young life of this Texas kid. Once again on a new journey, now traveling 744 miles to the north.
Arriving in Detroit, Michigan could be a bit of a shock coming from Texas and Georgia, but from the beginning the city embraced the young quarterback as their own. Through 12 years with the Lions, the passing phenom would go on to set many records. He would become the fastest player to reach 15,000, 20,000 all the way up to 40,000 passing yards. He also has the most fourth quarter comebacks in a season, with eight in 2016.
There was talk of a MVP award in the 2011 season, throwing for 41 touchdowns and throwing for over 5,000 yards. The epitome of toughness was displayed in a 2009 matchup against the Browns, taking a vicious shot late in the game only to stay in and complete a touchdown pass on the final play for a 38-37 victory. The Texas kid, now 33 years of age, was at the end of one journey and the beginning of another.
Matthew Stafford is the New Rams Starter
The distance from Detroit to Los Angeles is 2,281 miles. The newest journey for many in the career of the now veteran from Highland Park, Athens, Detroit and now Los Angeles. It’s only fitting to welcome a new state of the art and world’s most expensive stadium, with a new quarterback to transform this new era of Rams football. Get ready to welcome the new quarterback of the Los Angeles Rams, Matthew Stafford!