Detroit Lions fans have had a few weeks to get over the departure of quarterback Matthew Stafford in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams.
The deal (bringing QB Jared Goff and picks to Detroit) was agreed to in late January, just after the team hired Brad Holmes as GM and Dan Campbell as head coach. But it couldn’t go through until the first day of the NFL’s new league year on Wednesday.
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That means it was also time for one more tug at the Honolulu Blue heartstrings, as the team Wednesday night released a nine-minute (of course) farewell video from Stafford.
WATCH IT HERE:
The video opens with Stafford in a dark studio, narrating the letter of his farewell. It chronicles his early years “as a long-haired Texas kid from the University of Georgia.”
It continues to blend images of the city and Stafford’s time on and off the field, with the quarterback noting of the city, “I guess it’s where I grew up.”
About halfway through, in the midst of several celebratory Lions moments, Stafford intones, “I want you to know how much I care. How much I will always care.”
He then thanks a bevy of coaches and teammates, from Calvin Johnson to Glover Quin. It’s a fitting remembrance of the team’s climb from an 0-16 season the year before Stafford’s arrival to … well, at least a team that hasn’t gone 0-16 since. Along the way, Stafford cemented his status as the best quarterback in franchise history, with 45,109 passing yards, 282 touchdowns and three playoff appearances.
Finally, Stafford’s missive ends with a message to all the fans who saw him through 165 starts with the Lions:
“Thank you for everything, Detroit. Sincerely, No. 9.”