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Matthew Stafford has been one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the NFL. He had a challenging job, though, as the quarterback for the Detroit Lions. Now with the Rams, Stafford had to deal with losing many games during his 12 seasons in Detroit.

While playing behind the Lions’ offensive line might’ve been dangerous, in 2014, Stafford once almost had a near-death experience on his way to Lions practice.

Matthew Stafford was a great quarterback on some bad Detroit Lions teams

In 2009, Stafford struggled for the Detroit Lions during his rookie season. He threw 13 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 10 games. In 2010, he only appeared in three games. However, the Tampa, Florida native has since become an excellent quarterback.

Stafford won the 2011 AP Comeback Player of the Year award, throwing for 5,038 yards, 41 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions that season. He also led the Lions to the playoffs that year. But Detroit fell in the wild-card round.

Then, throughout seven seasons, Stafford became as consistent of a quarterback as you can be. He threw for over 4,200 yards and 20 touchdown passes or more each season from 2011-17. He also recorded 24 touchdown passes or more in five of those seven seasons.

However, the Lions only made the playoffs in three of those seven seasons. They also lost in the wild-card round each time. Detroit ultimately missed the playoffs in each of Stafford’s final four seasons with the team and failed to win more than six games in three consecutive seasons from 2018-20. This was while Stafford still performed at a high level, throwing for 4,084 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions in 2020.

In addition to just merely not winning games, the Lions never did a great job of protecting Stafford. In 2020, Stafford ranked ninth among active QBs in total times sacked. These things led to the Lions parting ways with their star QB and sending him to the Rams after the 2020 season. Stafford’s success in LA came almost instantaneously as he advanced the team all the way to Super Bowl LVI, which they won 23-20.

Matthew Stafford almost had a near-death experience on his way to practice

With all the success Stafford had individually, he probably has some fond memories from his years with the Lions. However, he also had some frightening ones, including when he had a near-death experience.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Stafford was on his way to practice in September 2014 when “he happened upon [a] collapsed bridge.” A waste disposal vehicle had hit a pedestrian bridge that morning, which led to the driver dying. Stafford was even reportedly just about two or three minutes behind the accident. His car was the first vehicle that police stopped when they shut the freeway down.

“It shocked me, but it probably shocked some people that were right around it even more,” Stafford said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “I didn’t really know what I was looking at. You don’t expect to see that when you were driving to work, but I’m sure there were people closer to it than I was.”

Stafford also said he saw the truck driver.

“There was no blood,” Stafford said. “It wasn’t that kind of thing. It seemed like [everything was fine], and then, all of a sudden, this cop sprinted out like something bad [happened].”

An NFL quarterback can be thankful for many things. Stafford, though, can certainly be grateful he didn’t leave for practice just two or three minutes earlier than he did on that day in 2014.

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference


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