Heading into Sunday night's playoff game, which of course marked his first game back in Detroit, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford knew how Lions' fans would view him. When he came out of the tunnel for pregame warmups, Ford Field delivered with a healthy smattering of boos for the former Lions' signal caller.
The Lions' victory was a healthy piece of vindication for Jared Goff, and also a moment for Detroit and Lions' fans to fully move on from Stafford and a frustrating run for the franchise over his 12 seasons that was not his fault.
After the game, Kory Woods of MLive asked Stafford how he felt about the city of Detroit. It seems Stafford misunderstood the question, but that's hard to believe and it was instantly seen as a slight to Lions' fans.
"I’m happy for the players. I’m happy for those guys,” Stafford said.
Stafford is not the first player to give a less than ideal response to a question at a post-game podium, especially after a tough, close, season-ending loss like he had just had. He didn't say anything especially inflammatory, he just failed to have a positive sentiment toward Lions' fans in that moment.
Maybe Stafford feels slighted in some way about his return to Detroit. But he knew he was the enemy, the opposing quarterback standing in the way of the Lions getting their first playoff win in 32 years. So it seems unlikely his feelings were hurt.
Maybe that particular response was short, inauthentic and lame, as Jeremy Reisman of Pride of Detroit called it. But ultimately, who cares?
Lions should not care about what Matthew Stafford had to say after Sunday night's game
Stafford had more to say later, starting with how well Goff played and Lions fans cheering for their current quarterback (like they should, and Stafford acknowledged that). Then Stafford had more to say when asked about the reception he got from Lions' fans at Ford Field.
Stafford shouldn't care about the personal feelings fans have towards him, though the "sitting in the stands" comment could come off as a more open dismissal of Lions' fans.
Could Stafford have said some things differently to acknowledge Lions' fans and the city of Detroit after Sunday night's game? Sure. Should he have been expected to throw all kinds of bouquets at Lions' fans after Sunday night's game? Absolutely not.
Another, maybe bigger, question is if Lions' fans should care about about anything Stafford did or didn't say about them after the game. The answer is they shouldn't. He represents the past now, while the focus should be on the Lions' present and future.