June 23, 2024

Matthew Stafford is a legend in Detroit.

But this week he is back in town as the opposing quarterback during the Lions’ first home playoff game in 30 years, prompting this announcement to appear on Instagram in the days leading up to Detroit’s NFC wild-card game against the Rams:

“JERSEY BAN. Lions Stafford Jerseys will not be permitted into Ford Field on Sunday.”

The announcement was posted by the Detroit Line, identified in its Instagram bio as a lifestyle brand “supporting all things Detroit and more.”

It was not posted by the similarly named Detroit Lions, who did not respond to The Times’ request for comment but clearly had nothing to do with the so-called ban.

Some people were not amused — including the wife of the man who wore that No. 9 jersey for 12 very tough seasons in Detroit.

“Well this is sad because it’s the [complete] opposite of how we feel about this city,” Kelly Stafford wrote in response to the Detroit Line’s Instagram post, “but Matthew has always been the bigger person and will continue to be that. Praying for an incredible game with zero injuries.”

A spokesperson for the Detroit Line, who declined to give their name, told The Times on Instagram that the company is not surprised at the response by Kelly Stafford and other Lions fans.

“Kelly has always defended Matthew, but she has gone over the top a few times,” the spokesperson said. “As for fans’ reactions, it has gone exactly how we thought it would go. Stafford has always been a very polarizing topic in Detroit. The love and hate are both strong here.

“TheDLine is on the ‘Love’ side. He gave us 12 years and tried very hard to get our franchise to where it is now, but it never worked out …. This week will be difficult because it means so much for our fanbase. Obviously, we will put our Stafford Fandom aside this week. It’s not personal. Just business.”

The Lions were not a good team for much of Stafford’s time in Detroit, never winning their division and going 0-3 in the playoffs. Stafford asked for and received a trade after the 2020 season, then won Super Bowl LVI with the Rams the very next season. Meanwhile, this season’s NFC North champion Lions are thriving in their third year with coach Dan Campbell and former Rams quarterback Jared Goff.

It all makes for a very interesting weekend in Detroit, where Stafford will be on the opposing team in one of the biggest games in Lions history.

So what happens if Stafford and the Rams end the Lions’ season?

“If the Rams were to win, we would continue to root for Stafford,” the Detroit Line spokesperson said. “If you recall, we created the viral Detroit Rams campaign during the Rams Superbowl run. That said, the Lions will be ‘biting kneecaps’ this week on our run to the Superbowl.

“The real question will be for Los Angeles, will you return the favor and root for Jared Goff during our Superbowl run, as the Los Angeles Lions?”


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