Having Matthew and Kelly Stafford as friends has made me a better person

Staffords are leaving Detroit, but not before making lifelong friends

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These photos show Matthew and Kelly Stafford, their daughters, and Hank Winchester and his husband, and their daughter.

DETROIT – Saying goodbye is never easy.

However, we will do it in life more times than we would like. I suppose it’s part of living and growing.

I don’t like goodbyes. Who does? However, saying goodbye to Matthew and Kelly has me conflicted. On one hand, I don’t want my friends to move across the county, but on the other hand I can’t wait to help pack the U-Haul. I’m happy for Matthew. I’ve seen what he’s done day in and day out for this team.

Often times we would have dinner after a game. I could tell he was in serious pain, but he never complained, he never wanted sympathy. He just chalked it up to being part of the job. It’s one of the things I admire the most about him. He works hard, harder than anyone really knows and having him as a friend has made me a better person.

I first met Matthew and Kelly through mutual friends several years ago. None of us were married at the time. Today, we’re all married and have six kids between us (four of them are Staffords, thankfully -- I don’t have the patience).

We just clicked right away. We rarely talked about work. This annoyed my friends who are diehard Lions fans. We connected talking about life. We got to know each other’s friends and families and were there for the big life events -- weddings, babies, surgeries. I learned by watching him. I remember one time Kelly was a bit stressed because one of twins wouldn’t take a bottle. Matthew just said, “Hey no need to stress, kids will eventually eat, nothing to worry about.”

When my daughter was around a year old I was panicked she wasn’t walking but remembered, like eating, walking would eventually come. It did and now I can’t slow her down. He helps me remember it will all be OK -- don’t stress and key in on what’s really important. He doesn’t listen to outside noise (no social media, I still don’t know how he avoids it but he does). He’s focused on the present. It’s rare in this day and age to have someone like that in your life. It’s something I value.

Kelly has a heart bigger than her body. My friends who are really tapped into social media follow her every move on IG. And, yes occasionally I have the “Kelly what did you post” conversations -- haha.

She’s the party girl who evolved into the super mom every kid wants around. When my daughter was a toddler I was guarding her every move. Kelly made me chill. Kids are supposed to fall. I didn’t like this philosophy at first, but I’ve grown to adapt ... a bit.

When we adopted Emma, we FaceTimed with Matthew and Kelly from our hotel in New Orleans (where Emma was born). This happened very quickly, so my house wasn’t necessarily prepared for a baby. Kelly (along with some other amazing friends) had shipments of must-have items waiting for us when we got home. I didn’t ask for help, it just happened. That’s who she is. Whenever I shared a story about someone who needed help, Kelly wanted to help. That’s just who she is.

When she was diagnosed with her brain tumor I still remember her calling me from Atlanta and telling me she had tough news to deliver. I assumed it had to do with Matthew and an unexpected injury. I pulled over on the side of the road. She said the words brain tumor and I just couldn’t believe it. I was worried for my friend. Later, I was amazed to see how she handled the stress, the surgery and the recovery. She’s tough and I admired how quickly she bounded back -- however, I still don’t want to go kickboxing with her. Damn it’s hard.

Yes, saying goodbye to these two and the girls won’t be easy, but sometimes you say goodbye because you know it’s right. No one knows what the future holds in LA, but one thing I know for sure is the Rams are getting a guy who will give it his all. No fan needs to worry about that. Win or lose, he will be gracious, humble and gearing up for the next battle -- he just won’t be sharing his thoughts about that battle on social media.

Congrats LA, you’re getting a good one. We’ll be cheering for both of you from Detroit.

P.S. -- See you at the Rams vs. Lions game. And yes, I will be wearing a Stafford Lions jersey.

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FILE - In this Dec. 20, 2020, file photo, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) passes the ball during the second quarter of the team's NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, Tenn. The Lions are trading Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for quarterback Jared Goff, two future first-round picks and a third-round pick, a person with knowledge of the deal tells The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Saturday night, Jan. 30, because the deal has not been completed. (AP Photo/Brett Carlsen, File)

About the Author:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.