With free agent additions such as Allen Robinson and Bobby Wagner, there’s no doubt the Rams are eyeing the opportunity to hoist the Lombardi trophy again in 2023. This week, Stafford took part in a Q&A with CBS Sports. We discussed what the 2021 campaign was like, what makes the Rams special moving forward and touched on the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft.
So, you’re off to Las Vegas for the draft? I saw you partnered with Courtyard by Marriott for this Bistro and Banter event. Tell me a little about that.
Stafford: Yeah, I’m partnering with Courtyard by Marriott like you said, which is the official hotel of the NFL, and Aidan Hutchinson and I are doing a little bit of a sit-down Wednesday night at the Library at the Cosmo at 6 p.m. We are gonna talk a little football, what it’s like to be an old guy in the league, what it’s like to be a young guy in the league and then Courtyard is giving away a bunch of VIP tickets for people to check out the draft the next day. So it’s a cool event. It’s something that I’m excited to be a part of. Get to meet some new blood coming into the league, and I’ve watched Aidan play being a Michigan guy for the last couple of years, he’s a special player so looking forward to spending some time with him.
You were the top pick in 2009. What do you remember about draft night?
Stafford: It was a lot of fun. I was lucky enough to know kind of before the draft that I was going to be picked No. 1, so the blood pressure was down a little bit and I just got to really enjoy it with my friends and my family. It’s something I’ll never forget. It was a life-changing experience and something that I know now is that it’s just the beginning. It’s an unbelievable honor to be brought in to play in the NFL, but nothing is given to you after that, you gotta go out there and earn it. And I’ve learned that over the last handful of years, which has been fun.
You talked a little bit about Aidan Hutchinson, but you gotta be rooting for Travon Walker to get that top pick, right?
Stafford: Yeah, I mean I’ve watched him play as well being a Georgia fan like you said. There’s some scary guys on that Georgia defense that are going to be future NFL players come this weekend. So I’m cheering on all these young guys to be honest with you. It’s such a cool thing — a life-changing thing for these guys to get to experience, and hopefully I don’t have to play against too many of them too often.
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So, you’ve had a couple months now to let it sink in, had the opportunity to bask in your championship dreams. How does it feel? What was this past season like with the Rams?
Stafford: It was a great journey. It was up and down, there were tough times, great times, I think in the month of November we didn’t win a football game, played some bad ball and found a way to right the ship and get it going. That’s what NFL seasons are about. They’re never perfect, there’s always adversity, lose Robert Woods, we bring in Odell Beckham and try to get him up to speed as quickly as possible, bring in Von Miller. It really was just this unbelievable journey, and 365 days before I was a Detroit Lion. So it was an unbelievable thing to be a part of, and then something I’m hoping to try to achieve again.
What was it like playing the Super Bowl in your home stadium. Did it feel like a home game, or was it just so different because it was the Super Bowl?
Stafford: It was definitely a different experience. The fans were a little bit more 50/50, halftime is a whole lot longer, pregame all that kind of stuff. But it sure was nice cruising up to our home stadium and knowing what to expect once you get inside. Some of those comforts of home were definitely apparent for us. It sure made the celebration a whole lot more fun when you’re already in your home city, you get to just go directly hang out with friends and family and teammates and do all that. So it was special, for sure.
Back in November, it was reported that you were dealing with a myriad of injuries. Elbow, ankle, back pain. Were you hurt more than you were letting on as you finished out the season?
Stafford: Listen, I was out there. I was out there and got it turned around and started playing a little bit better. We all as NFL players deal with things, but I’ll tell you how I’m feeling, but I really won’t. That’s just the way it goes. I gotta give a lot of credit to all the guys on our team battling through everything they battled through just to get out there and play, and just happy that we were able to turn it around, get it going in the right direction and get it done.
To me, the Rams signing Allen Robinson is one of the most underrated signings of the entire offseason. Did you have a part in nudging the front office in that direction since you guys kind of knew each other from your NFC North days?
Stafford: I’m just a sounding board. They ask me questions about certain guys around the league sometimes, maybe guys that I’m more familiar with like you said. Just being able to have eyes on some of these guys. I have a lot of respect for Allen. What he’s been able to do in this league, what he’s been able to do in Chicago. I had a front row seat to him kind of getting after us a few times in Detroit. I know what kind of player he can be, excited to have him on our team and in that wide receiver room, it’s going to be a lot of fun getting a chance to play with him.
You guys have another special guy in Cooper Kupp. We all knew he was a good player but he completely dominated this past season. Can you give me a little look behind the curtain, what makes him such a special player?
Stafford: I think it’s a combination of things. He’s an extremely smart player, probably one of the smartest non-quarterbacks I’ve been around. He’s faster than people think, quicker than people think and I think at 6-foot-2, 205 or 210 pounds whatever he is, he’s really a strong physical player too. So when you get that combination, it’s tough to stop and he’s just got such great instincts and ability to create after the catch. It’s a little bit of everything and it makes him a really special player.
What do you like most about working with Sean McVay? It seems like you guys have a pretty special relationship.
Stafford: Yeah it’s been great. Really collaborative relationship, big-time two-way street where we’re talking ball. I’m learning a ton from him, I think he may be learning a little bit from me just as far as how I see the game through a quarterback’s eyes, those kinds of things. It’s been a whole lot of fun getting to go to work with him, just appreciate him as a coach and as a friend and it was great to achieve that Year One. You gotta go out there and try to do it again.
After such a special season, do you feel a bit rejuvenated moving forward?
Stafford: Yeah I think anytime you get a taste of what it’s like to hold up the Lombardi, you want it again. And that’s the motivator for me and has been for a long time. But getting one under my belt sure makes me want to go do it again. So I’m excited to get this offseason started and get going and try to go build this team and see where we go and try to get it done again.