Matthew Stafford has been with the Detroit Lions since the start of the 2009 season and he has shown time and time again that he is willing to sacrifice his body for the team.
In his 10+ seasons with the Lions, Stafford has suffered a plethora of injuries that certainly would have sidelined lesser quarterbacks. The Lions signal-caller has played through torn ligaments in his finger, a broken finger, a hip injury, and a broken back process, just to name a few.
In a recent piece published by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, he spoke to some former Lions, including Golden Tate, about Stafford's toughness.
From Detroit Free Press:
“I got to say he’s hands down the toughest quarterback that I’ve ever played with,” said Lance Moore, who caught 24 passes from Stafford in 2015 after playing with Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger. “I mean, those other guys are tough and Big Ben obviously gets called tough, but he’s a lot bigger guy and plays a different type of game than Staff does.
“But early on in that season we were so bad and we were so bad in the protection world, and Staff was getting killed. He would never, ever complain to anybody. Like no coach, no players. He kind of had the same look on his face and I’ll always remember that about him, that there was never any excuses or anything. He just kept playing and kept playing and kept playing.”
Running back Joique Bell said he was involved with a protection breakdown early in a September 2015 game against the Minnesota Vikings that left Stafford dealing with a rib injury all season.
“Stafford got crushed,” Bell said. “He takes that hit, crushes his ribs, he gets in the huddle, he can barely talk, barely breathe and that was the very first play of the game, and he stuck it out the whole game. Like the entire game not being able to breathe. I remember him coming in the huddle (gasping for air), ‘Trey right,’ (gasping for air), ‘tech tight.’ Gasping for breath every word.
“I already respected his toughness coming in on Mondays after the game … And I’m just looking at him, like all these machines hooked up to him, ‘Just another day, I’m all right. I’m all right.’ Every Monday, ‘How you doing Matt?’ ‘I’m all right. I’ll be all right.’ Matt is a tough cookie, man. I respect his toughness.”
Once, when Golden Tate went to check on a hand injury his quarterback was battling, Stafford told him: “God gave me two. I’ve got another one. I’ll be all right.”
“The guy’s pretty much been broken and finds a way to play each and every week,” Tate said. “His toughness is just unmatchable, in my opinion.”
There is absolutely no question that Stafford is one of the toughest players in the NFL and these comments from his former teammates prove it.