The Los Angeles Rams became Notre Dame football for Detroit Lions fans.
The Fighting Irish are a team Michigan and Michigan State fans take a peek at during the college football season.
You watch because you hate.
You watch because you admire.
And you watch to see how your team stacks up.
Rams games should be highly rated around Detroit after the 1 p.m. Sunday games because apparently, that is the only time the Lions play. The Rams became Notre Dame football in Motown after the Lions traded former quarterback Matthew Stafford to Los Angeles after finally asking for his walking papers from this dread of an organization.
Then Stafford, who usually says nothing, said plenty in a one-sentence quote to ESPN the Magazine.
“I just want to play in big games, you know? … I want to have opportunities to make big-time plays in the fourth quarter against really good teams, in big moments, rather than a 1 o’clock game on a Sunday somewhere.”
Now we must watch.
Stafford threw fire on his relationship with the Lions and the team’s fans. He turned the Rams into Notre Dame football.
Many watch Notre Dame football because of its tradition. Some around here watch the Irish because of their heated rivalry with Michigan and Michigan State.
Michiganders watch because of Touchdown Jesus, good football, and its proximity to the state. But let’s be honest. People watch because they hate Notre Dame, and week in and week out, they hope to see the Irish get throttled in its home stadium before its arrogant fans.
You will watch the Rams because of Stafford. And it’s because you either love him or loath him.
He is no longer in Detroit, but Stafford holds the keys to the Lions’ future.
Every Stafford loss generates a better first-round draft pick for the club. Every win makes that pick a little less appealing.
When Justin Verlander left the Tigers, a JV love fest filtered all the way to Houston. There are reasons to love Stafford and reasons to hate him. Either way, Michiganders are reinvested in Stafford.
The Rams are now Notre Dame football.
Here is why they are must-watch television in the Great Lakes state.
Why didn’t the Lions play in and win more big football games during the Stafford era? Was it because of Stafford’s shortcomings or because he played on the short on talent Lions? Every week an exciting chapter of this book will play out.
If Stafford balls out within the confines of more talent and better coaching, we will have our answer. We will also have our answer along those same lines if the Rams finish 8-9 and miss the playoffs.
I mostly blame the Lions for the last decade of futility, although Stafford deserves some blame for coming up short during the brief moments in the spotlight.
Would it be fair to place 70 percent of the blame on the Lions and 30 percent on Stafford? The Lions are one of the worse franchises in the history of sports. Younger folks question why this franchise failed to win a playoff game the last 12 years. I pose the question of why this franchise has won one playoff game in the last 60 years.
That’s nearly impossible to do unless you are a bad franchise that picks bad leadership and bad players. Here is how bad the Lions are. They had 19 years of Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson and won one playoff game between them. Both players walked away in their prime rather than collect a few more million and risk further heartbreak with this franchise.
Add their names to a laundry list of players who asked out from here. Ndamukong Suh and Stafford wanted out. Darius Slay could not wait to get out of here.
Back in the 90’s players used to say to traded teammates, “Welcome to the NFL.” In other words, you are now playing for a real franchise now that the Lions traded them to another team.
Only one man is walking the face of Earth who can say he won a playoff game with the Lions.
That is Erik Kramer.
Rodney Peete failed to win a playoff game in five years with the Lions. He won his first playoff game playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. And you guessed it, that win was against the Detroit Lions.
Getting back to Stafford, here’s the flipside about him. And I ask you this question. Wasn’t he always good for a fourth-quarter pick on the first drive of the fourth quarter when crunch time began?
I guess Stafford would have multiple playoff wins if he played for any other team in the NFC North. His most significant detriment was playing for the Detroit Lions.
The rest of the NFL agrees. Have you noticed that the league views him as a better quarterback now that he is with the Rams? Why is that?
It’s because he is now Lions-free.
Follow Foster on Twitter at TerryFosterDet.