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A Requiem For Matthew Stafford

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 26: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions leaves the field following a game against the Houston Texans at Ford Field on November 26, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Drew Magary’s Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday at Defector during the NFL season. Got something you wanna contribute? Email the Roo. Buy Drew’s new novel, “Point B,” here.

Matt Stafford almost escaped Detroit alive. Back in January, Sun-Sentinel reporter Omar Kelly tossed out a rumor that the Lions had Stafford on the trading block, and that they were also considering drafting his heir at the No. 3 slot in April’s virtual draft. Then–general manager Bob Quinn quickly denied that rumor with the kind of brashness that ALWAYS accompanies a transparent lie:

“He’s here. He’s our quarterback. And all those rumors, not sure exactly where they came from, but like I said before, they’re 100% false.”

Ah yes, where DID those rumors come from? How is rumor formed? Quinn came to the Lions after spending 16 years working for the Patriots, so you know precisely how much value his word holds. The Lions did NOT end up trading Stafford, but that was almost certainly out of incompetence and not a result of shrewd planning. They also didn’t draft his future replacement either, opting instead to take corner Jeff Okudah, who currently works in a platoon with another corner and has one interception and two passes defensed for the entire season. The irony here is that Quinn might have been able to avoid getting fired this week if he HAD traded Stafford and drafted Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert instead of Okudah, buying himself an extra year or two’s grace period.

But these are the Lions we’re talking about here. They were born to fuck up, no matter who’s in charge. That they managed to draft Stafford at all (Matt Millen acolyte Martin Mayhew was the man who sent the card with Stafford’s name on it to the draft podium 11 years ago) goes against their very history.

And Matt Stafford is the greatest quarterback in that sordid history. I was gonna hedge and say he’s only the best Lions quarterback of my lifetime (I’m 44, the exact same age as Quinn). But then I realized I was only doing that out of deference to Bobby Layne, who won three NFL titles with the Lions back in the 1950s. But honestly, who gives a fuck about that? If it happened before the Super Bowl invented, it doesn’t matter. Bobby Layne threw 47 more interceptions than touchdowns in his career. His highlight reel is a bunch of ducks thrown to already open wideouts. So fuck him and the six living fans still trying to protect his crown.

Because Matt Stafford is infinitely better than Bobby Layne ever was. As of this writing, Stafford’s thrown 132 more TDs than picks in his career. He has more passing yards than Dan Fouts, Johnny Unitas, and Joe Montana. He’s thrown for over 4,000 yards seven times, with a 5,000-yard season in 2011 to top it off. He’s authored 30 fourth quarter comebacks in his career and 38 game-winning drives, with three of those drives coming this season in the meager four wins the Lions currently have. He also pulled off the ballsiest fake spike in history:

Someone send that tape to Anthony Lynn to show him how it’s done. There was also the time that Stafford, as a rookie, came back from 24-3 down against Cleveland and won the game with a TD pass to Brandon Pettigrew with zero ticks left on the clock. Oh, and he threw that pass AFTER suffering a separated shoulder. There was the time in 2011 when Stafford came back from 20-point deficits in two straight games to win. And, of course, there was the Falcons game this season, when Stafford took advantage of Todd Gurley’s accidental touchdown by tossing the game-winning touchdown 64 seconds later. He’s also played through not one but TWO COVID-19 scares.

Stafford has never won a division title. He’s played in three playoff games and lost them all. The only reason that Stafford doesn’t get mentioned alongside Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson as legends who got dealt a shitty hand of karma by being forced to play in Detroit is because A) Stafford didn’t retire suddenly to preserve both his body and his sanity, and B) quarterbacks can’t evade team failures the way other skill position players can. If you believe that second point is a fair one, the numbers back you up. Stafford’s passer rating in those three playoff losses was pedestrian. He averaged over 300 yards in each of them and completed well over 60 percent of his passes, but he also threw three total picks and blew leads in two of those games: an early 14-7 lead over New Orleans (Detroit went on to lose by three scores) and a 20-7 third quarter lead in 24-20 loss to the Cowboys that was decided by the refs’ horrific decision to pick up a DPI flag toward the end. That 2014 Lions outfit, coached by Jim Caldwell, was the best team Stafford ever played on. He’ll likely never play on a better one, and certainly not this season.

This is probably the last you’ll see of Stafford in a Lions uniform. Quinn is gone now. So is head coach and friend-who-came-over-to-crash-on-your-couch-and-ended-up-staying-for-two-months Matt Patricia. The Lions will bring in a new braintrust this offseason, and that braintrust will make changes that will at least be cosmetic if not effective. Those changes will definitely include putting Stafford on a raft and shoving him out onto a lake, where he can endure the same kind of humbling career twilight that Joe Flacco—who sits two spots behind him on the all-time passing yardage list—is currently enduring. Stafford’ll either spend next year as a backup, maybe in his hometown of Dallas, or as a placeholder QB for some awful team like the Jaguars. Then he’ll retire peacefully, with over $200 million in career earnings.

So it’s worth it to take a moment now and appreciate Matt Stafford for the absolute fucking tank that he was. I have every reason to hate his guts, given that I cheer for a rival team. But I never have. This isn’t because I’m a good person, mind you. I’m deeply annoying. But like Barry and Megatron, Stafford has rarely, if ever, done anything hate-able on or off the field. He makes cool plays. He owns a supremely obnoxious house, but I like supremely obnoxious houses. He gave boilerplate Classy Guy answers when he was asked about the trade rumor and about Patricia’s long-overdue shitcanning, but did NOT hold back when George Floyd was murdered. NFL quarterbacks are a rogue’s gallery of grudge-holders, nootropics salesmen, dumbfucks, and other assorted freakshows. Stafford has never quite fit into any of those categories. He also partied hard with my old colleague Leslie Horn, which is cool.

And Matt Stafford is cool. When you’re a Lions fan, having a genuinely cool player is about the best you can hope for, and they’ve had three of the coolest to ever do it. Stafford is the rare quarterback who engenders fan confidence in pant-shittingly tense moments and has a generous archive of unforgettable plays to his name. He won’t make the Hall of Fame. At the most, he’ll get inducted into the Lions’ Ring of Honor unless the Lions fail to pay out his contract as owed. But, in the general sense, he deserves to have his name live on as more than just a Guy you remember from time to time. He was a great football player. He may never be again, but the average Lion makes it out of Detroit with far, far less.

The Games

All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.

Five Throwgasms

Browns at Titans: The Browns have had two winning seasons since they came back to Cleveland in 1999, and they haven’t had a winning season since 2007. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2002, when King Of All Retreads Butch Davis was at the helm. They’ve finished in top 10 in offense ONE time this century. Same with the defense. That’s right. I’ve done even MORE cursory football research for this stupid column.

With those figures in mind, and despite the fact that Jimmy Haslam still exists, I would REALLY like these Browns to make the playoffs this season. That’s still not a lock, given that the 2020 Browns still have a negative net point differential, and that the AFC is shockingly deep this time around, and that three of Cleveland’s remaining five games are against teams that are above .500 (CAVEAT: That includes the Ravens, who may have all died by the time this posts). They could still Browns this shit at any moment. But I legitimately hope they don’t. I hope they win out and literally knife the Steelers to death in Week 17 to finish the job. The ensuing superspreader party in Cleveland would be worth it.

Four Throwgasms

Rams at Cardinals: I’d like to talk to you about pull ring seals. I think they’re called that. Lemme give you a photo so you know what I’m talking about.

You see these things? These things are SHIT. I wanted some milk, instead I got a panic attack. You need to pull on these cheap things with the strength of an edge rusher to get them off. And once it’s off… BOOM! Milk all over the goddamn countertop. Every piece of bad packaging on this earth is the result of companies trying to save a few bucks. WELL I WON’T STAND FOR IT. For now, I’m only buying liquids that come in a can or bottle. BIG CARTON’S shenanigans have gone on for too long.

Three Throwgasms

Giants at Seahawks: I shouldn’t be naïve these days but I’m still thrown whenever a prominent athlete turns out to be an absolute psychopath online. Take former Seahawk and current Panther Russell Okung, for instance.

This is the kind of thing that should be noted on every game telecast. When they cut to Jack Del Rio on the Teamster sidelines, Kenny Albert should say, “And there’s defensive coordinator and known QAnon nutjob Jack Del Rio,” so that everyone at home knows. I don’t wanna be caught off guard when it turns out that Daniel Jones is a Pizzagater or some shit. If you believe the socialists are coming to eat all the babies, the general public should be informed of your mental state. You should have to tell your neighbors too, like you got listed on a sex offender registry. I’m sure this violates the Constitution somehow, but so does every other fucking thing that’s legal right now. All I ask is that we abuse power CORRECTLY.

Bills at Niners: This is the originally scheduled Monday night game and not the displaced one (WFT/PIT) that’s airing at 5 p.m. That’s right: you get TWO helpings of buttermilk diarrhea (copyright Lindy West) this Monday instead of just one. Lucky you.

Earlier this week, Louis Riddick and the rest of ESPN’s MNF crew defended refs who throw late flags. They were like, “Shit out there happens fast, you know. Sometimes the refs need a second to think this shit through.” Now, that was a good point. I can’t disagree with that… UNLESS my team is on the wrong end of a late flag. If it happens in any neutral game, fine. The refs just needed an extra moment to get it right. But against my team? IT’S A MOTHERFUCKING CONSPIRACY AND I WILL GUN BILL VINOVICH DOWN IN THE STREET IF I EVER SEE HIM. They were taking so long to call PI because Al Riveron had to call them from Manhattan to ORDER that flag be thrown! That’s a FACT! I get to go the full Q when I’ve been wronged and Russell Okung does not!

Patriots at Chargers

Saints at Falcons

Two Throwgasms

Eagles at Packers: My neighbor got a new rescue dog this year, and she told us that she’s been struggling to train the dog because the dog grew up abroad and doesn’t understand a lick of English. I’ve had botched communications with other people in my lifetime because we didn’t speak each other’s languages, but I never considered the fact that dogs have that problem too. If you tell a dog SIT when it’s heard “siéntate” its whole life, it’s not gonna know what the fuck you’re talking about. This is why I’m gonna invent Duolingo: Canine Edition and make a goddamn billion dollars. SEED MONEY PLEEZ.

WFT at Steelers: This game is airing exactly when it deserved to air: when I’m taking a shit before dinner.

Colts at Texans

One Throwgasm

Raiders at Jets: All season long I was dumbfounded by the fact that the Raiders were, like good. I was banking on a full decade of Jon Gruden trading away everyone useful and gleefully flaying every quarterback in his stable until they had no skin left on their bodies. Imagine my chagrin when they went to Arrowhead and somehow WON a goddamn game. I was like, “I can’t believe this Gruden plan is actually working.” But then last week the Falcons beat the fucking piss out of them and all became right again. The Raiders are garbage, Gruden is a scarlet fraud, and I can sleep at night once more.

Broncos at Chiefs: The older I get, the more I yell while sneezing. My old man yells when he sneezes and it’ll blow your eardrums out. I was like, “Well I’ll never sneeze THAT loud.” Wrong. Now that I’m in my 40s, I have evolved so far past mere achoos that I’m barely human anymore. I rear back and, against my will, I let out a WAJCHAHHHHHHHH so loud it could strip the fucking paint off the walls. I have to leave the room to sneeze now. I can’t do it in front of my kids because it’ll scare them to death. I cover my face when I do it and all that, too. I swear. It does nothing. There are tips on how to make your sneezes quieter, but they’re all roughly as complex as mastering a golf swing and could result in me blowing my eyeballs out of my skull.

Jaguars at Vikings

Lions at Bears

Bengals at Dolphins

Pregame Song That Makes Me Wanna Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall

“Shit Life,” by Dios Mio! From Terry!

Speaks for itself.

That it does. This is not a great song. But it IS a great video. It’s got everything: beer runs, a van, people living in dumpsters, a naked guy, blood, and an old school Pizza Hut that’s still a Pizza Hut. If this video doesn’t represent the very best that Wisconsin has to offer, I’ll a eat stuffed crust pizza off of the lead singer’s bare ass.

Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week

This Stereogum article is actually two years old, but I stumbled on it the other day and dove in because I consider myself a fan of all things Andrew WK. It is, I shit you not, the worst thing I’ve ever read. I WANTED to like this article. And yet…

Let’s start now. Or as close to now as can be defined in this conversation, between the time and place I am in as I write these words and the time and place you are in as you read them.

That’s it. That’s all I’m gonna subject you to from this post by Michael Nelson. I was like, “OK, well I guess he’s toying with the form to start off. Let’s see where this leads.” Reader, it leads NOWHERE. It goes on for miles and miles, and eventually I asked myself, “Hey wait a second, what the fuck am I even reading?”

I’ve had such epiphanies in the past, where I’m reading something and trying to get the gist of it, only to realize that it absolutely fucking sucks. This shallow dive into the mystery of who really IS Andrew WK (answer: arguably the greatest native marketing campaign for Coors Light in human history) represents the nadir of the form. All writing across the world should have ceased upon its publication, and Michael Nelson should have a restraining order placed upon him that forbids him from getting within 100 yards of me, a keyboard, children, and any physical copy of I Get Wet. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Nazi Shark’s Lock Of The Week: Lions (+3) at Bears

Lots of sports sites, to demonstrate the arbitrary nature of gambling, like to have animals like monkeys pick games to see if they can outwit their human counterparts. There's no reason we at Defector can't also get in on the fun. So we've asked National Socialist German Workers' Party member Rolf, who also happens to be a shark, to pick one game a week. Take it away, Nazi shark.

“Oh, were you looking for the basketball player guy? Yeah well I ate him.”

2020 Magic record: 7-4

2020 Nazi Shark record: 0-0

Bad Local Commercial Of The Week!

Robinson Furniture! We live in an age of men getting really horny for cosplay, so it makes sense that Michigan’s finest(?) discounter furniture retailer would get in on all the hot and heavy action. From Edward:

They are truly a Detroit treasure. They even have an entire 30-minute commercial on local TV every Saturday morning much like this.

I will NOT watch that extended cut. Thirty seconds of Badman & Robinson is all I require. It’s got a grown man in a muscley Halloween costume, a woman who is totally his wife in latex thigh high boots (RAWR!), a sidekick who’s been forced to do all the hard sales copy, and a statuesque Wonder Woman ripped straight out of Trump’s wet dreams. It’s too much for one viewer to take in.

Fire This Asshole!

Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we’ll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year’s end or sooner. And now, your potential 2020 chopping block:

Bill O’Brien—FIRED!
Dan Quinn—FIRED!
Matt Patricia—FIRED!
Matt Nagy*
Zac Taylor
Mike Zimmer
Anthony Lynn*
Adam Gase***********
Vic Fangio
Doug Marrone
Doug Pederson

(* - potential midseason firing)

You haven’t seen the last of Matt Patricia. Not with every Big Ten coach about to be fired. Nebraska boosters have a golden parachute with that man’s name on it. I’ve seen even worse coaches thrive after their signature disgraces. Matt Patricia is gonna be allowed to cling onto this sport forever, like an anal wart.

Great Moments In Poop History

Reader Andy writes in with this one I call POOPIN’ ON MY MIND.

I used to work at a restaurant 96 miles from my home. The money was good, because I was working in a big city, and living in a small town in Georgia. I would get off work, drive home, be too tired to go out and drink and do massive amounts of drugs like most restaurant-type folk. So I was saving lots of money.For about 10 days I couldn't shit. I tried Citrucel, exercise, milk (I'm lactose intolerant), and everything I could think of except sticking one of those "flexible tip" Fleet enemas up my ass. One day after work it was late as hell, I had to open the restaurant the next morning, so I decided to stay at a local Hampton Inn. I could get some sleep, watch some Spanktravision, and have an all-around good night. About 3 seconds after I check in and get to my room I finally have to drop a deuce. Finally. After a week and a half. I can't tell you how relieved I finally am that I'm not going to have to go see a doctor.That feeling lasted as long as it took me to sit down. You know that feeling you get when an exceptionally large turd starts creeping out? It hurts even before something turtle-heads out? Multiply that by about 157.I started looking for handlebars on the sides of the toilet. Anything to hold on to that would help me get this fucking Sequoia Redwood out of my ass. After 15 minutes of squeezing and hoping, maybe about 80% of it was out. Still not done, and no progress was being made. I couldn't pinch it off, either, because it was like a small animal was trying to get out of me and taking my entire intestinal tract with it. I shook and shook, and it finally came out.Ever seen 10 days worth of steak, potatoes, spinach, corn, and Reese's Peanut Butter cups compacted into one foot-long log? It was impressive. Problem was, it was a fucking hotel bathroom, so no plunger. I flushed once, pre-wipe, and no luck. Again, nothing. Third time....still there. Finally I had to wipe. I just wrote a note to the housekeeping staff saying, "Sorry for the clog" and drove the 96 miles home.The lesson here?  Always have a damn plunger.

I’m glad Andy has provided this reminder because I wanna talk to you about the RIGHT plunger. Have you ever had to tussle with a beehive plunger? Have a look:

Looks effective, right? The nozzle gets deeper into the toilet’s recesses to suck up all that naughty poop. But what BIG PLUNGER leaves out of the sales brochure for the beehive is the existence of water displacement. Look again at how big the head of that fucking plunger is. Where’s the water it displaces gonna go? On your goddamn feet, that’s where. We own one of these and, at my wit’s end, I took it out back a couple of week ago and sawed off the nozzle so that it was just a regular-ass plunger again. Always have a plunger, but make sure it’s never more plunger than is needed.

Gametime Snack Of The Week

The McDonald’s hash brown, which remains nature’s perfect food. I was talking these up to my son the other night while he was macking on some tater tots. I was like, “Boy if you like those, have I got the absolute god food for you.” He has never had a Mickey D’s hash brown, but now he wants one. In fact, he was up my ass until bed time that night begging to go. To shut him up, I promised him Popeyes down the road instead. Don’t ask me how or why I arrived at that détente. I think I was trying to steer him toward healthier cravings and got derailed somehow.

Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week

Red Horse Extra Strong! By request from Andrew:

I’m the in the Philippines (for work) getting drunk on Red Horse Extra Strong. Can we get Red Horse in the Jambaroo?

We sure can, amigo.

Alex Guerrero’s Lifehack Of The Week!

"Want to keep unwanted dark plasma from overtaking your other vital humors? We all do, but it's not going to happen by itself. This is why I eat a spoonful of clay every day."

Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Jets Fans

Silent Night, Deadly Night. I remember when this came out in 1984 and I was both terrified and scandalized. I still believed in Santa at the time, so the idea that someone would make a movie where Santa is a deranged killer REALLY bothered me. I was oddly protective of Christmas for a long time. I was outraged by Christmas slasher movies. For a while, I even abstained from masturbating on Christmas Day. I thought it was too disrespectful or something. I still don’t like slasher movies of any kind, but I lifted that other moratorium pretty quickly.

Apparently I wasn’t alone in my furor at the existence of Silent Night, Deadly Night, because a bunch of concerned grownups got it pulled from theaters after just one week. Between this, the Judas Priest trial, and the PMRC hearings, my youth was a never-ending parade of tight-assed adults getting supernaturally pissed off at artists who were clearly joking around. Those adults all ended up being Trump voters, of course.

As for SNDN, watch that trailer and see how long you take it seriously. By the time you get to Santa impaling a shirtless lady on a mounted deer head, you’ll break. This is all shit that got edited out of The Kentucky Fried Movie.

Gratuitous Simpsons Quote

“Close but no doughnut, cops!”

Enjoy the games, everyone.

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