What You Don't Know About Matthew Stafford

Quarterback Matthew Stafford spent the first 12 years of his career with the Detroit Lions, and while he never took that team to the Super Bowl, he left with impressive record-breaking numbers, including the fastest player to get 40,000 career passing yards. Saying farewell to the Motor City in a trade that would replace him with quarterback Jared Goff, Stafford changed into a new royal blue and yellow uniform to become the QB for the Los Angeles Rams. His first year in the City of Angels, he landed a spot at the Super Bowl against sophomore quarterback Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals.

With a solid coaching staff and great roster on the Rams, Stafford is getting where he deserves. But having one of the strongest arms in the NFL isn't only what Stafford's all about. Check out these professional and personal aspects about Stafford's life that are just as intriguing as watching him play on the field.

Matthew Stafford thought baseball was his future

Before Matthew Stafford thought about a football career, this athlete had dreams of being a baseball star. However, once his talents throwing a football overpowered his batting skills in high school, there was no looking back.

Per Rams Wire, Stafford once told reporters, "Growing up, I probably would've told you that's what I was going to do until high school hit." He went on to explain that because football recruitment started later on, "you didn't really know if you were that good at football or not until you played on varsity and somebody offered you a scholarship." He shared that while he "loved" both sports as a kid, he didn't predict he'd become, you know, a superstar QB one day. "I probably would've thought I was going to play baseball and then football just kind of happened to be something I was a little bit better at, so," he said.

When asked by ESPN what else he would be doing if not football, Stafford still leans towards a baseball career. "Probably riding a bus in the minor leagues, trying to play baseball somewhere." Interestingly in the same interview, his close friend believed Stafford would have made a great detective because "he's good at putting clues together" and "figuring out puzzles" thanks to his "sharp mind." 

His high school career was impressive

Even before Matthew Stafford attended Highland Park High School in Texas, he was being told he'd be a star on the field. His high school coach Randy Allen recalled to ESPN, "I became very interested in watching him, and he could throw a ball in the eighth grade about 80 yards. It's not — you don't see many eighth-grade boys throw that far, and then he had receivers that could catch it." 

Video of Stafford in a victorious game from Rivals proved just how good the QB was in high school while on the Scots. It was clear that Stafford was beyond his years as his focus to throw the ball to his players was successful play after play. He demonstrated leadership and command of the field with ESPN reporting that he ended his high school quarterback career with a state title his senior year and with a total of over 8,800 yards and 94 touchdowns. Rivals would also rank Stafford the No. 1 top pro-style quarterback in the nation at the time. 

According to 247Sports, Stafford was the sixth-best recruit and the No. 1 quarterback in 2006, and he received offers to play in Michigan, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Florida State, but eventually enrolled in Georgia. ESPN reported that he earned several accolades including the EA Sports National Player of the Year honors in 2005 and MVP honors at the 2005 Elite 11.

An analyst predicted he would be the top draft pick

Matthew Stafford attended the University of Georgia. Per NCAA, he started for three years passing for 7,731 yards and 51 touchdowns in total. He won numerous awards, including the 2009 Capital One Bowl MVP and the 2008 Pro Football Weekly All-American. Forgoing his senior year, Stafford entered the 2009 NFL Draft.

Stafford was selected No. 1 overall in the first round of the NFL Draft and was given a new home with the Detroit Lions. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper had already predicted Stafford would get the top spot in the NFL Draft way before he showed his impressive skills with the Georgia Bulldogs. 

As MLive pointed out, Kiper had eyes on Stafford ever since he was in high school, accurately believing something great was to become of him. With predictions often 50/50, especially when looking at a kid who wasn't even in college yet, Kiper ended up being right. During that same draft year, other notable QBs were also selected in the first round, including Mark Sanchez who went No. 5 to the New York Jets and who most fans remember for his "Butt Fumble" play, and Josh Freeman, who went No. 17 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but had a turbulent career. 

Matthew Stafford's racked up a lot of passing yards

Matthew Stafford joined elite company in 2011 when he was with the Detroit Lions and threw over 5,000 passing yards. At the time, the only quarterbacks to ever throw for 5,000 yards were Dan Marino in 1984, Drew Brees, who completed the feat twice in 2008 and 2011, and Tom Brady who also topped the list in 2011, per ProFootballTalk.

Before he began his first season with the Los Angeles Rams, Stafford believed that a quarterback had the potential to throw for 6,000 yards in the 2021 season. With the NFL expanding the regular season from 16 games to 17 games, there just might come a time when fans witness this remarkable feat by a quarterback. Per Rams Wire, Stafford said, "I don't even want to think about that number. That's crazy. I'm sure somebody will. I don't know who led the league in passing last year, but I bet it'll happen." When asked if he would be the one to reach that number, he replied, "I don't know, maybe. But I don't care if it is or not. I just want to win."

According to Sportscasting, as of this writing, there are only eight quarterbacks who have thrown for 5,000 yards. However, former quarterback Peyton Manning has the most passing yards in a single season when he threw for 5,477 yards in 2013. 

Despite the fame, Matthew Stafford's a normal guy

Despite being one of the biggest names in the NFL right now and taking his team the Los Angeles Rams to Super Bowl LVI, Matthew Stafford isn't a fan of being called a "celebrity." He once shared with ESPN, "I don't view myself as a celebrity. Some of these guys who play quarterback are celebrities and all that kind of stuff. I play quarterback because I love playing quarterback and I'm lucky to do it. I don't do it for the fame or attention or any of that stuff." 

Even Stafford's wife, Kelly Stafford, pointed out that he's really just any other guy, he just happens to play football really well. "He does what every other human does. He goes to work. He comes home. He deals with a nagging wife. He deals with family and he gets up and does it all over again," she told ESPN. "But he doesn't consider himself special in any regards, which he's not." Even his Rams coach Sean McVay knows his quarterback's humble side. 

Per The Rams website, McVay once shared, "I think one of the unique things about Matthew as you'll get to know when you get to know him is, he's just being himself ... and he's got a great confidence, but a humility that comes with that. He just has a great feel for people and that's just who he is."

Matthew Stafford has earned a ton of money so far

In 2017, Matthew Stafford was coming into his ninth season with the Detroit Lions. At the time, The Washington Post reported that quarterback Derek Carr of the Las Vegas Raiders (formerly known as the Oakland Raiders) signed a five-year $125 million contract, but Stafford would top that. The Detroit Lions extended Stafford's contract, giving him a whopping five-year deal worth $135 million and making him the highest-paid player in NFL history. 

Stafford's contract made history that year, but in 2018, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan would break Stafford's contract record when he agreed to sign a five-year, $150 million deal, per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And in 2020, those records were blown out of the water in when Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes signed a 10-year contract worth half a billion dollars

Although Stafford didn't get a contract worth half a billion dollars, he's more than comfortable. His net worth today sits at $80 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Matthew Stafford grew up with another star athlete

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw just so happens to be best buds with Matthew Stafford. Growing up in Texas and attending the same schools, both athletes were at the top of their game — so much so, as ESPN noted, the two future megastars "were never allowed to be on the same team during pickup games." Otherwise, their opponents wouldn't stand a chance.

"With Matthew and Clayton on the same team, it's not going to be competitive," a friend of Stafford's shared. "They wanted to go out and compete. Matthew would compete against Clayton. It's how they helped each other." According to the Los Angeles Times, the two men have known each other since they were in second grade and played all sorts of sports, including baseball and football. However, they had different callings: Stafford pursued a football career during his sophomore year in high school, and Kershaw picked up baseball after only playing a season of football. 

Since Stafford's move to Los Angeles, he's been spotted at Dodgers games. In one game day clip shared by the Dodgers Twitter account, Stafford said he was there to see "Kershaw do his thing." According to Dodger Blue, Kershaw just might be at SoFi Stadium in California rooting for Stafford to win it all at Super Bowl LVI. 

He is a dad to four girls

Matthew Stafford may be a tough and resilient player on the football field but at home, he is a girl dad. The quarterback and his wife Kelly Stafford are parents to four girls: twins Sawyer and Chandler were born 2017, third child Hunter arrived in 2018, and the family welcomed a fourth girl named Tyler in 2020. 

In 2020, Matthew shared that he found it hard to be away from his family while players were required to quarantine due to the coronavirus. He told ESPN that he had urges to break protocol. "I just hate being away from my family, you know, and finish a practice, finish a game, go hug my daughters, hug my wife," he said. "That's what sometimes makes it worth it for me, and not being able to see them and hang with them has been really tough."

During his first season with the Rams, his wife and children were able to be there for their dad while he played at home, rooting for him as his team after they celebrated win after win. Matthew thanked them for their unconditional love and support, especially when he made the big move from Detroit to L.A. He told People, "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them. I would never have made the decision to go in and ask to be traded [somewhere] unless I had full support from my family and understanding that things were going to change, things were going to be different both professionally and personally." 

Kelly Stafford survived a brain tumor

The biggest fan of Matthew Stafford has to be his wife Kelly Stafford. The couple has been together since attending the University of Georgia; Matthew played for the Georgia Bulldogs and Kelly was a cheerleader. In 2015, the couple tied the knot. A few years later, Kelly was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

In a piece for ESPN in 2019, Kelly shared how she learned that she had acoustic neuroma, also known as vestibular schwannoma, a slow-growing tumor that can cause hearing loss and affect balance, per Johns Hopkins Medicine. Kelly revealed in the aforementioned ESPN essay, "My biggest fear is not being here, and not being here to raise my girls ... They were going to open up my head and there was a 50 percent chance I would lose my hearing. There was a chance I'd lose facial function." Thankfully, Kelly's surgery was successful. "Matthew was incredible during the whole process," she wrote. "He was literally by my side at every step."

In 2020, she dedicated an Instagram post marking one year since her 12-hour surgery. She wrote, "The hardest part of the year has passed. I am looking forward to the year to come knowing they might bring new challenges, but ready for those challenges because not only do I now know how strong I am, but more so how much stronger I am with my husband and kids by my side."

Matthew Stafford's homes are fit for an NFL star

Matthew Stafford may be one of the most humble guys in the NFL, but this quarterback knows how to live large. His former home in Michigan and his new home in California are both jaw-dropping — and probably what you'd expect from a star player who worked his way to make it as a Super Bowl contender.

When Stafford was with the Lions from 2009 to 2020, he called the city of Bloomfield Township home. Just under 30 minutes from Ford Field in Detroit, his former lakeside mansion had all the amenities fit for a king. According to the Detroit Free Press, the home featured five bedrooms and seven bathrooms with an impressive dining room with a glass floor where guests could look down and see Stafford's extensive wine collection in their cellar. There is also a half-basketball court, an infinity pool that wraps around the home, and floor-to-ceiling glass walls on the back of the house for spectacular views of the lake. The Staffords listed the home for $6.5 million in 2020. 

When Stafford was traded to the Los Angeles Rams, the quarterback bought an even bigger home in the Hidden Hills area of California. According to Dirt, the mansion, which Stafford shelled out $19.6 million for, boasts an impressive list of amenities, including six bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a home theater, and indoor and outdoor kitchens. 

The Mannings were intimidated by his skills

There's no debate that Matthew Stafford has one of the best arms in the NFL. His throwing skills are so impressive, former quarterbacks and brothers Peyton and Eli Manning admitted that they were intimidated by Stafford.

According to Yahoo!, Stafford attended the Manning brothers Passing Academy in 2008 and after watching what would be the next quarterback for the Detroit Lions, neither Peyton nor Eli wanted to go next. While speaking with Stafford on ESPN in 2021, Peyton said, "You were at our camp back in 2008 and I've got to tell you, I've never told you this. Eli and I were arguing over who had to throw after you because you were throwing the tightest spiral. I remember you were throwing a post route and you waited until the receiver got to like 60 yards before you threw it. For me, I'd have to hit the cutoff to make a throw go 60 yards."

Stafford's arm strength has been widely discussed among fans, players, and football experts. Former quarterback Rich Gannon told the Los Angeles Times, "I don't think he gets enough credit for his arm talent. I mean he makes some ridiculous throws, especially out-breaking routes, ball's outside the number from the far hash. He throws the deep ball really well, he's very accurate." Archie Manning, retired quarterback and father of Eli and Peyton, also shared that at the Manning Academy, "Matthew had the most impressive arm of anybody we've ever had."

The Staffords have donated millions

Matthew Stafford said farewell to the Detroit Lions after 12 seasons, but he and his wife Kelly Stafford didn't leave the Motor City without doing something special for the place that they called home for so many years. According to Fox 2 Detroit, the couple donated $1 million to help build a new activity space for underprivileged youth. The building will be part of the SAY Detroit Play Center and will be named the Kelly and Matthew Stafford and Friends Education Center. 

Speaking to the Detroit Free Press about the donation, Stafford said, "We've partnered with SAY Play for a while now, and we know how well-run it is. This new education center speaks to our wanting to be involved with Detroit for future years. It's something that we can be proud of, something that we can come back and visit, and also something that hopefully teaches our daughters a lesson down the road."

Kelly also shared the news on her Instagram along with a photo of the family of six saying goodbye to Detroit's Ford Field. She captioned her post, "There are not enough words to truly express how grateful we are to have lived here for the past 12 years. We came here for football, but we are leaving with a sense of home and endearment." According to ESPN, the Staffords also donated $1.5 million to the University of Georgia, where they both attended. 

Kelly Stafford's brother played in the NFL

Kelly Stafford certainly knows the ins and outs of football, and it's not just because she's married to quarterback Matthew Stafford. The mom of four also is related to another NFL player: her brother, Chad Hall. 

According to the Buffalo Bills website, Hall was a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010-2012, the San Francisco 49ers from 2012-2013, and the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013. In 2017, he became an offensive assistant with the Buffalo Bills, and then went on to become the team's wide receiver coach where he helped breathe life into the team's offense. Bills receiver Andre Roberts spoke highly of his coach, telling ESPN, "He's probably one of the most energetic coaches we have and we love him for it. He brings that energy in meetings and on game day, and that energy that he brings is just nice to have — especially as an older guy."

Bills wide receivers including Cole Beasly, Gabriel Davis, and Emmanuel Sanders admire their coach, with Sanders sharing, "I love playing for Chad. He's not a ra-ra guy, but, you know, when you make a mistake he'll pull you to the side and he's going to kind of talk to you like a grown man and I appreciate that." In 2017, the Detroit Lions Twitter account shared a photo of Stafford and his brother-in-law before they played against one another with the hashtag "#FootballIsFamily."

Kelly Stafford's gotten into the podcast game

For anyone wanting to know more about the Stafford family, Kelly Stafford has her very own podcast titled "The Morning After." Her show runs the gamut; you don't have to just like football to listen. 

In her podcast, Kelly dives into her husband's games, literally the morning after, and even shares insight on their family life and motherhood. In her first episode, she discussed Matthew's first game as a Los Angeles Ram, sharing, "I can only imagine what was going through John's head — that's his father. Watching your son do what he loves to do, but he did it for 12 years in a place that wasn't successful, and to come to a new place where maybe he's got a little bit more of a shot, to watch him run through that tunnel and just feel his energy, feel like he was a kid again."

Kelly also detailed the epic moment Matthew's team won the game that sent them to Super Bowl LVI. "And I see him and I don't even think we said anything. I just jumped on him and we just embraced. ... It's a moment I'll never forget," she shared in the post-NFC Championship game episode. Fans can also watch snippets of her podcast and more behind-the-scenes videos and photos on Instagram, including the time she found out her hubby got drafted to the Lions in 2009.