Matthew Stafford, future NFL MVP?
For the Detroit Lions quarterback, winning the award doesn’t seem the least bit far-fetched.
Former Lions receiver Nate Burleson said on his “Good Morning Football” show last week that Stafford texted him earlier this summer, after co-host Peter Schrager mentioned Stafford as a dark horse candidate for MVP, and said, “Tell Peter, forget the dark horse stuff, I’m going for the MVP.”
“I’m not going to share the backstory,” Stafford said Monday. “What I text Nate I guess is for y’all a little bit, but not all of it. But Nate’s a great buddy of mine. Love watching him do his thing.”
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Stafford was playing some of the best football of his career last fall when he suffered a back injury in the Lions’ eighth game that kept him out the rest of the season.
He threw for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns, but the Lions were 3-4-1.
Healthy now and entering his second season in coordinator Darrell Bevell’s offense, Stafford had a strong training camp and is the biggest reason the Lions have generated buzz as an under-the-radar playoff contender.
“I’m just excited to go play,” he said. “I know I have a bunch of talented playmakers around me, some guys that if I can just get the ball in their hands they can do some pretty incredible stuff, so it’s on us as an offense. We got to go out there and operate. We got to operate as one, 11 guys working together. And just because we had success last year doesn’t mean we’re going to have success again this year. We’ve got to go out and prove it every day.”
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Stafford has put up MVP caliber numbers before: In 2011, he became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to top 5,000 yards passing in a season. He was named Comeback Player of the Year, but was not selected for the Pro Bowl and was not in the MVP conversation as the Lions finished second in the NFC North.
Barry Sanders was the last Lions player to win MVP, sharing honors with Brett Favre in 1997. Typically, the award has gone to a quarterback on one of the NFL’s best teams.
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Asked Monday if he thinks the award is within his reach this year, Stafford did not directly answer.
“Listen, I just go out there and play, try to win games,” he said. “Try to help my team win games, whatever I can do to help them win, I’m going to try to do that.”
Contact Dave Birkett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Lions content.