10 things to know about Matthew Stafford, Highland Park native and Super Bowl champion
In his first season in Los Angeles, former Highland Park star Matthew Stafford led the Rams to their first Super Bowl championship since 2000. Stafford threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns in Super Bowl LVI, including the Go-ahead to Cooper Kupp with 1:25 remaining in the game. The Rams hung on to win 23-20, Stafford’s first Super Bowl win.
Here are 10 things to know about the Rams quarterback:
1. The Basics
Name: Matthew Stafford
Not: February 7, 1988 (33 years old)
Weight: 220 pounds
2. Featured in Highland Park
Before Matthew Stafford became a household name, he was cutting competition at Highland Park High School.
During his senior season with the Scots in 2005-06, he threw for 4,108 yards and 38 touchdowns while completing 65% of his stats, according to MaxPreps. He led Highland Park to a state championship that season.
247 Sports ranked Stafford as the #1 pro-style quarterback in the class of 2006 over other signal callers in the state like Nick Stephens (Flower Mound), Greg McElroy (Southlake Carroll), Taylor Potts (Abilene) and Christian Ponder (Colleyville Heritage).
3. Clayton Kershaw was one of his high school teammates.
While Stafford played for the Highland Park football team, Clayton Kershaw headlined the baseball team. In fact, Stafford and Kershaw were football and baseball teammates.
In baseball, Stafford was Kershaw’s catcher. In football, Kershaw was Stafford’s center for some time
The couple graduated from Highland Park in 2006.
The two went on to earn millions in the NFL and MLB respectively.
4. Make a name for yourself in Georgia
Stafford had a rough start in Georgia. In 13 games during his first season, Stafford threw for 1,749 yards, seven touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
However, Stafford only went up from there. Stafford increased his passing yards, touchdowns, and completion percentage each of the next two seasons. During his junior season, Stafford threw for 3,459 yards and 25 touchdowns while completing 61.4 percent of his passes. He led the Bulldogs to a 10-3 record that year and a Capital One Bowl victory over Michigan State. He led Georgia to a Sugar Bowl victory over Hawaii the previous year.
5. He was the first pick in the draft
Stafford rode his success at Georgia in the 2009 NFL Draft, where he was selected with the No. 1 overall pick by the Detroit Lions.
He was unquestionably the best quarterback in the class of 2009.
6. A rocky start in Detroit
Much like his first season at Georgia, Stafford had a tough rookie season in Detroit. Stafforrd threw for 2,267 yards and 13 touchdowns in 10 games, but also threw for 20 interceptions. He missed six games during his rookie season with knee and shoulder injuries. He only played three games in his sophomore season after separating his pitching shoulder twice.
7. Turn the corner
Stafford finally had his breakout season in 2011, reminding the NFL why he was the No. 1 overall pick.
Finally healthy for a full season, Stafford threw for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns with a 63.5% completion percentage. And that was just the start of Stafford’s string of individual successes in Detroit. Stafford played in all 128 games for the Lions from 2011 to 2018, throwing for 35,724 yards and 218 touchdowns during that span.
In 2018, Stafford signed a five-year, $135 million contract with $60.5 million guaranteed. At the time, it was the richest contract for any player in the NFL.
8. A lack of playoff success… in Detroit
Despite impressive individual numbers throughout his career, Stafford has not been as successful in the win column. For his career, he has a regular season record of 86-95-1.
In 12 years with Detroit, he posted just four regular-season winning records and appeared in three playoff games, losing all three.
In his first season with the Rams, Stafford turned things around and won his first three playoff games with Los Angeles. Against the NFC Championship 49ers, the Rams entered the fourth quarter 10 points behind, but Stafford’s offense would score 13 unanswered points to secure a trip to the Super Bowl.
9. The craft that resurrected her career.
Stafford’s last two seasons with the Lions were nothing to write home about. In 2019-20, the Lions went 8-15-1 in the 24 games played by Stafford.
In January 2021, the Lions traded Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for quarterback Jared Goff, two first-round picks, and a third-round pick.
The deal helped Stafford resurrect his career.
At 33, Stafford has finally made individual success rhyme with victories. During the 2021 regular season, Stafford threw for a career-high 4,886 yards and 41 touchdowns while leading the Rams to a 12-5 record.
Stafford then stepped up his game in the playoffs, earning his first career playoff victory. In fact, his first two.
In the wildcard round, Stafford threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a touchdown in the Rams’ 34-11 win over Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. Stafford then outdid himself, knocking out Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers 30-27. With the game tied at 27 and with 27 seconds left, Stafford completed a 44-yard pass to Cooper Kupp to set up the game-winning field goal. Stafford threw for 366 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another.
Now Stafford is set to face the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, putting him one win away from his first Super Bowl appearance.
10. No social media
Whether it’s fans or analysts, Stafford has had its fair share of criticism.
But they couldn’t reach it, literally.
Stafford has no active social media accounts. His wife, Kelly Stafford, said some fans went so far as to comment on their criticism of her husband on her Instagram account.
“I think that’s why people do it because they can’t reach Matthew, because he has no social media. So they come to me and they make it even worse because they’re so frustrated they can’t reach it. I love it. Not that I like the comments, but I love that they can’t reach it,” Kelly said on an episode of his podcast,The next morning with Kelly Stafford.
“I mean, I could only imagine being a professional athlete and reading [expletive] that people write.
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