DETROIT – Kelly Stafford, the wife of Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford, apologized Thursday for calling Michigan a “dictatorship” during a social media rant inspired by the state’s new COVID-19 restrictions.
“I’m over living in a dictatorship that we call Michigan,” Kelly Stafford said earlier Thursday in an Instagram story. “I understand there’s a pandemic, and I understand it’s very scary. I’m scared of it too. If you are in risk, do not leave your house until there’s a vaccine. But shutting down all these small businesses -- things that people have worked their life for -- shutting them down again is not the answer, because they will not make it.”
Her comments came on the second day of Michigan’s three-week COVID-19 “pause,” which banned indoor dining at restaurants, shut down in-person classes for college and high school students and, perhaps most relevant for the Stafford family, banned all attendance for sporting events.
The Lions had been allowing 500 friends and family members attend games at Ford Field, but when asked about that during Sunday’s announcement of the new restrictions, Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, shut it down.
“No attendance means no attendance,” Gordon said.
Kelly Stafford said she feels bad for small business owners, as well as people infected with COVID-19 and hospitals.
“I do not like living in a place where they tell me what I can and cannot do,” she said.
Kelly Stafford return to Instagram Thursday afternoon and apologized both on video through her story and with a post.
Here’s what she said in the video apology:
“Alright, y’all, here’s what I do best: Coming back to apologize, after I read some of your things and I get grounded a little bit. I’m really sorry. I was in the heat of the moment. I have a friend losing her business. It’s just getting to me a little bit, so I apologize for calling it a dictatorship -- probably a not so smart use of words. But yeah, I just want it to work for everybody, and I know it’s not going to work for everybody, and it just kills me to see people suffer a financial burden from losing their business, and also from getting sick. But I don’t know -- I apologize.”
Here’s what she said in the photo apology:
“I should have never used the word ‘dictatorship.’ I got caught up in the heat of the moment, that is my fault. I don’t know the answer and I won’t pretend to. I care about the people who are losing their lives or battling this, and also the medical staff who care for them, and it is hard knowing these local business owners and watching them struggle and having to lay off their employees, not knowing how they are gonna make it. So I’m sorry. I let my emotions get the best of me. I love Michigan and the people here -- don’t get that twisted in this. This place was my rock during my tough times, and I wish there was an answer that pleased everyone, but we know that is definitely not the case.”
In between the rant and the apology, Kelly Stafford also vowed to try to help small businesses who are struggling during the pandemic. Here’s what she said on her Instagram story:
“OK, so now that I’ve punched something and my rant’s over, I asked y’all the other day about if you wanted me to just get a list together of small local businesses that I know of since I’ve been here. So I did put that list together. I’m going to find all their Intagram tags and then I’ll post it. Again, an easy way to support local businesses instead of shopping on Amazon. I have retail places that you can go to here in Michigan to just help them because, you know, Amazon has profited big time from this pandemic, so things like toy stores and clothing stores and jewelry and florists and everything. So, again, I’ll post that here, probably this afternoon after I get my kids settled.”
Full ‘dictatorship’ rant
Here are the full comments from Kelly Stafford’s initial Instagram story:
“So I’m going to be very blunt: I’m so over it. I’m over living in a dictatorship that we call Michigan. I understand there’s a pandemic, and I understand it’s very scary. I’m scared of it too. If you are at risk, do not leave your house until there’s a vaccine.
“But shutting down all these small businesses -- things that people have worked their life for -- shutting them down again is not the answer, because they will not make it. So once we are able to leave our house, once this dictatorship decides to let us have some freedom, there will be nothing left.
“I’m just over it. I see all these people and it brings me, like, to tears. I — and believe me, I know there’s people out there that are stating, ‘That’s really ignorant of you. How could you say that?’ Listen, I know not everybody’s going to agree with me. Not everybody’s going to agree with my every move I make. That’s life, OK? We state our opinions, we move on.
“This is my opinion. I feel for these small businesses. It’s not that I don’t feel for people that have COVID, or the hospitals. I do. But this is my opinion. I do not feel like — I do not like living in a place where they tell me what I can and cannot do. I live once. Again, this is my opinion. You have yours, everyone has their own, and we chalk it up to that.”
Midwest governors seek federal aid for businesses
Michigan, along with several other states and cities, has implemented new restrictions in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, specifically targeting gatherings in public spaces, such as restaurants and movie theaters.
States themselves cannot bail out businesses. Governors across the country have been calling on Congress to pass another relief bill to help businesses survive.
On a conference call Tuesday among Democratic governors from the Midwest, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers called for a sequel to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act adopted by Congress in March.
“There are workers and families and farmers and small businesses that are going to need our help, and frankly, we can’t do it alone,” Evers said. “We’re going to need a robust federal support system to help our states and economies recover beyond the federal CARES funds that expires at the end of the year.”
In a news conference Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, made a similar push.
“Everyone on both sides of the aisle in Washington needs to come together and finally get this done for the American people,” Hogan said.