Even with a ring, Matthew Stafford doesn’t get super respect

The last time most in Los Angeles saw Matthew Stafford with his teammates, he looked drunk.

The last time most people in Los Angeles heard from Matthew Stafford, he was talking about his sore arm.

The last time most in Los Angeles checked Matthew Stafford’s name in a quarterback poll, he was ranked second.

The next time Los Angeles cheers for Matthew Stafford, he will throw significant passes for the first time in seven months against the Super Bowl-favored Buffalo Bills on Thursday night at SoFi Stadium.

The boozy speech at a post-Super Bowl party will likely be mentioned during the televised broadcast. The elbow tendinitis is dissected. The quota placements are checked. The heat will once again be on the Rams’ main star to prove his greatness.

What a difference in the year Not make.

Shouldn’t all these questions have been answered?

Hi? Matthew Stafford led the Rams to a Super Bowl championship, remember? Sure, Aaron Donald was the muscle, Cooper Kupp the magic, but Stafford was the difference.

They couldn’t win with Jared Goff. With Stafford they won everything.

His 17 regular-season interceptions were his most in nine years, but he was unbeatable in the playoffs and carried them through the toughest moments of their journey.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford watches from the sidelines during a preseason game against Houston.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford stood on the sidelines during preseason games and watched. He also rested his sore elbow a lot during camp.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

After Stafford Kupp scored with two long passes, the Rams charged down to beat Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the closing seconds of an NFC divisional round playoff game.

With Stafford connected on all five passes, the Rams planned a last-minute drive to beat the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC Championship.

Staying cool despite the most pressure of his career, Stafford drove the Rams 79 yards to a winning touchdown in the dying minutes against the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl.

“It’s poetic, man,” said Rams coach Sean McVay.

But for Stafford the poem was just verse.

You’re a champion, but what about all those interceptions? Could you have won it if the 49ers’ Jaquiski Tartt hadn’t dropped that pick in the fourth quarter? Could you have won it without McVay? can you win it again

Although Kupp was the native Super Bowl MVP and Donald was the native Super Bowl star, Stafford was the transplant Super Bowl sidekick.

Kupp got the votes, Donald got the glory, and Stafford got the armpits.

Part of that is certainly because many still associate him with Detroit. Just look at his recent endorsements. He’s starring in a national phone commercial, but with a tongue-in-cheek approach, his 12 years with the Lions were as much at stake as his one year with the Rams. In another commercial, he exclaims, “Pizza! Pizza!” for a company based in – you guessed it – Detroit.

As with another local graft named LeBron James, even a championship didn’t secure Stafford’s place here.

His offseason got off to an unfavorable start in February when, like many of his teammates, he was understandably boisterous as he took the stage during the Rams’ victory parade. Give him points for kindly agreeing to take the mic under those conditions. But his loose tongue made social media cringe.

“I’m damn glad to be standing up here with you and celebrating this S–” Stafford exclaimed. “Come on! Let’s go! I’ll bring some southern hospitality to it. I appreciate you all so much. You’ve been amazing. Amazing all year. And you know what? We appreciate you!…Let’s go!”

Before the “Let’s go!” He took a long gulp from a long dark bottle while the crowd roared.

It got worse. Later, apparently still in a drunken daze, Stafford casually walked away from photographer Kelly Smiley after she fell off the stage and suffered a fractured spine. Such was the excitement that Stafford and his wife Kelly, who were caring for the injured Smiley, issued a joint statement a day later.

“We have been in contact with Kelly Smiley since yesterday’s incident and we are sorry for what happened,” the statement said. “As we told Kelly, we will pay all of her hospital bills and replace her cameras. We wish her a speedy recovery.”

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford wants to pass in training camp.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has said rest has helped him with his elbow problem.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

“I feel good, I have the feeling that I can make all throws.”

– Matthew Stafford, Rams quarterback, on concerns about his elbow problem

The next time most people heard from him, it wasn’t much more pleasant. This spring, the 34-year-old admitted he had received an injection in his right elbow to combat last season’s ailments. During training camp, McVay called the ongoing condition “abnormal for a quarterback,” saying, “Some of those things are things that MLB pitchers deal with.”

Wait a minute? Is Matthew Stafford suddenly Walker Buehler?

Stafford quickly silenced the alarm bells, He said he was fine, noting, “I’m going through something that’s irritating at the moment, but I’m working on it.”

He then showed it during a recent practice session with the Bengals, connecting on every pass for the first 45 minutes of practice.

“I feel good, I have the feeling that I can make all throws,” he said.

There are still plenty of disbelievers, according to Athletic’s annual survey of 50 NFL coaches and executives. Stafford was ranked the second tier of NFL quarterbacks, seventh best on their scale, though he has top-five credentials.

Stafford ranks behind the Bengals’ Joe Burrow, whom he defeated in the Super Bowl. He ranks behind the Bills’ Josh Allen, who has never been to a Super Bowl. He trails behind the Chargers’ Justin Herbert, who has never won a playoff game.

This perception cannot be based on career statistics. It cannot be based on batting wins. Certainly some of this must be based on personality. Stafford is not extravagant. He’s not a rock star. Like his high school teammate Clayton Kershaw, he makes every effort to fit in.

Stafford speaks so softly that he often gets lost in the crowd. When asked by reporters about his success this summer, he said it was just the first step.

“Yeah, I’m just trying to build on that,” he said. “Obviously I had some success last year and I want to continue my growth on offense. I’m just trying to make sure I can keep finding ways to get better both physically and mentally. How I can help the guys in our team.”

Right or wrong, the question is whether he can get better. Fair or not, there are doubts.

Was last season a brilliant fluke? Can he connect to new receiver Allen Robinson the same way he connected to free agent Odell Beckham Jr.? How well can he function behind an offensive line without anchor Andrew Whitworth? Can he reduce all those picks?

Matthew Stafford has shown that he is one of the champions. Now he has to prove that he is one of the greats.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/rams/story/2022-09-05/super-bowl-ring-matthew-stafford-quarterback-rankings Even with a ring, Matthew Stafford doesn’t get super respect

Emma Bowman

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