A fledgling Detroit Lions campaign got dealt a potential death blow two weeks back when it was revealed that quarterback Matthew Stafford had fractures in his spine, officially knocking him out of action for up to six weeks.
While the Lions currently sit at 3-6-1 on the season, with a playoff berth essentially out of the realm of possibility, Stafford, a true iron man, stressed that he still wants to return this season.
“Because this is what I do,” Stafford said Wednesday, via Tim Twentyman of the Lions' official website. “I understand your question, but this is what I love to do. I love playing football. I appreciate all the hard work that all the guys in this locker room and in this organization put into going out there and trying to win games on Sunday and I love being a part of that.”
While Stafford's loyalty to the team and his toughness is admirable, it simply doesn't make sense for him to return.
Stafford had previously overcome his former reputation of being injury prone ever since being selected first overall out of Georgia in 2008. At one point, Stafford had ridden his games played streak to a remarkable 136 consecutive contests, but that all came to an end after suffering broken bones in his back in Week 9 against the Oakland Raiders.
Let's not forget that professional football isn't just about the action on the field, but it's a business. Stafford is in the second season of his five-year, $135 million contract. If he's to rush back from this injury in a lost season and re-aggravate it, not only would he miss significant time, but the Lions would see a damaged edition of their investment.
In his absence, backup Jeff Driskel has performed up to par, throwing for 478 yards, three touchdowns, and just one interception on a 58.3 completion percentage. Not only that, but the former Cincinnati Bengal rushed for 88 yards and a score on 13 carries.
When adding all of these factors together, Matthew Stafford has no reason to return. For the betterment of his health and career, sitting out the remainder of this lost season is his best option.