Ramblings: Stafford to Super Bowl is bittersweet for Lions fans

Stafford takes LA Rams to Super Bowl LVI vs. Bengals

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 30: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams reacts after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game at SoFi Stadium on January 30, 2022 in Inglewood, California. The Rams defeated the 49ers 20-17. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) (Christian Petersen, 2022 Getty Images)

It’s weird, right?

Seeing former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford in a LA Rams jersey was strange enough. Watching him take his team to a Super Bowl is bizarre.

It almost feels like the Lions years never happened. Did they happen? I mean, do we have proof? It feels like a decade ago. A football mirage.

Or maybe the Lions years made Stafford who he is today -- a hungry athlete who has molded himself into a team leader through many tough years and brutal injuries.

Lions fans should be nothing but happy for Stafford, and we should be rooting for him to complete the mission in Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13 vs. the Bengals. But it’s still surreal.

I couldn’t help but think back on the Lions teams Stafford took to the playoffs, three different teams. Did we waste away good rosters?

In 2014, Stafford led the Lions to a playoff matchup with Dallas. We all know how that ended up, and we won’t go there (hi, refs), but looking back at that roster makes me teary-eyed because we had a decent team together. Reggie Bush, Golden Tate, Theo Riddick and, that one guy, Calvin Johnson -- the Hall of Famer. And on defense, Ndamukong Suh, Zeke Ansah, Glover Quin, Darius Slay and DeAndre Levy. That defense was no joke.

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 04: Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions reacts alongside running back Reggie Bush #21 in the first half against the Dallas Cowboys during the NFC Wildcard Playoff Game at AT&T Stadium on January 4, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) (2015 Getty Images)

In that 2014 game, Stafford didn’t play very well. He completed 28 and 42 attempts, for one touchdown and one interception. He fumbled twice.

The 2016 playoff game vs. Seattle featured a different roster, without Calvin Johnson and Suh. That team wasn’t good enough.

The 2011 playoff game vs. the Saints, Stafford’s first, was a pretty good Lions team. Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson and Kevin Smith on offense; Willie Young, Cliff Avril, Suh, Louis Delmas and Stephen Tulloch on defense. And yet, the Lions got blown out in that game, 45-28.

Dwelling on the past is not a useful exercise, but seeing Stafford accomplish what he set out to accomplish in his first season after leaving Detroit is bittersweet. And that’s nothing against him. It’s just the life of a Lions fan, I suppose. I’ll be happy for him if he wins, that’s for sure.

And hey, if the Bengals can turn things around this quickly, perhaps there’s hope for another cat-themed team four hours north. Right?

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.