Detroit Lions: Everybody Hates Matt
By Mike Payton
What is it about the world of sports that makes fans and analysts alike feel that they HAVE to find the scapegoat?
Hey I’m guilty of it too. After any game of any sport I’m always right there with a take about what went right or wrong. That’s what we all do. The small issue is that a lot of those times, the take we put out there is fresh out of the oven hot. This is what sells to the public unfortunately. The fact is, people are a lot more likely to click on something or buy a newspaper out of anger, rather than out of happiness. I’m guilty of that at times as well. What it does is put people in a state if uniformed rage. “This guy said that? I have to see why, and then prove him wrong on social media.” I know as I write this that someone will read the title of my article and will have a response that garners a hateful comment. Some will look at the title and say that this is my way of getting clicks. Honestly I just thought the title was funny cause it reminded me of the TV show Everybody Hates Chris.
Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been in the news this week if you haven’t noticed. Deion Sanders was asked about Stafford and his response was to compare him to Jay Cutler as an insult. Cutler is obviously looked at as the worst decent quarterback in the NFL. He’s a guy that’s been on a struggling team and he’s a guy like many other QB’s that makes mistakes. So to compare any other Quarterback to him is to say the same about that quarterback. Perhaps it’s because I live here in Michigan and hear it on a daily basis, but Matthew Stafford to me is the most polarizing quarterback in all of the NFL. Even more so than Cutler.
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Regularly abhorred by local media and fans , it seems there is nobody out there that’s elated to have Matthew Stafford in Detroit. That’s of course until it’s time to be elated. While I do enjoy Matthew Stafford’s work and I do find him to be extremely talented. I’m not here to stick up for him today. I’m here purely in an experimental capacity I suppose. What is it about the quarterback that makes a group of fans gather outside the stadium to spit on and set fire to his jersey after a loss? What is it that makes half of that group go out and buy a brand new jersey after a win the very next week.
What is about Matthew Stafford that makes him a magnet for this type of behavior? Actually that question may be easy to answer. First off the most elementary of reasons, he’s the quarterback for the Detroit Lions. The very same team with the very same fans that are starved for success and full of impatience that honestly they shouldn’t have to be full of anymore. Any loss is going to come with hot takes, and those hot takes are guaranteed to come at the expense of the quarterback. Stafford is simply the name in that place right now. What makes matters worse for Stafford is that his wife does what any wife would do for her husband. She sticks up for him. Unfortunately she does that in public and the media shines theirs big bright lights on it every time. Basically telling this woman to sit down and shut up because opinions will not be heard unless the team wins. Lastly this guy looks like your average every day frat boy. This is where I agree with the Cutler comparison. Cutler has the appearance that he doesn’t care about anything going on. Simply because he’s a decent looking dude with a very attractive wife and he doesn’t seem to smile a whole lot or show any emotion. Fans hate that. Stafford shows emotion, but because he looks like a frat boy, he gets the moniker of party boy that doesn’t care. At this point we are literally judging the book by its cover.
There’s an easy remedy to all of this. I’ve mentioned it a few times in this article. It’s winning. Winning makes everything disappear. Peyton Manning was a lot like these two guys at one point. Everyone questioned whether or not he could win in the NFL or whether or not he was elite. Winning made all of that go away. The thought on Manning now is that the guy has always been a winner and never had a problem in the NFL. Until Matthew Stafford can win on a continuous basis, the hot takes will stick around. The same thoughts on Stafford will also continue to stick around. You know the ones, “Stafford has decision making problems” or “Stafford just forces it to Calvin Johnson.” Losing completely hides the marked improvement that he has shown over the past two years. Should it?
That’s the question I want you to ask yourself. Does a players improvement really happen if the team doesn’t win? What are your thoughts? Not just on Matthew Stafford or quarterbacks, but on sports and scapegoats altogether. Is it just a part of the game? Or is purely a therapeutic reaction?