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How do you do, fellow kids?
Matthew Stafford is an aging quarterback. That’s not to say he’s old, by any means, but he’s also not the spry ironman passer he was when he broke into the league.
Supposedly, Stafford knows that he may not be hip to the new lingo, styles and trends that the younger players on the team are into. That is, at least according to Stafford’s wife, Kelly.
Stafford has been teammates with hundreds of offensive players over the year, but Year 15 may be his most challenging year yet, largely thanks to the generation gap. Speaking on her podcast “The Morning After” in August, Kelly offered some insight to her husband’s seeming disconnect with some of his offensive teammates:
It’s kind of crazy. So Matthew’s been in the league a long time. He’s like ‘The difference in the locker room has changed so significantly.’ They have a lot of rookies on their team, they’re very young. But he’s like ‘I feel like I can’t connect. In the old days you’d come out of practice, you’d shower, and people would be playing cards, interacting. Who knows what they’re doing but they’re doing something together. Playing ping pong, they have a tournament going on. They’d at least be talking.
But now they get out of practice, and meetings during training camp, and they go straight to their phones. No one looks up from their phones. Matthew’s like ‘I don’t know. — Am I the dad? Do I take their phones? What do I do here?’ He’s like, ‘I want them to see me not as a coach.’
They say ‘Sir’ to him and s—. He’s like ‘No, we’re on the same level here, we’re both playing in the league. Let me get to know you.’ He said it’s so different and so hard to get to know these guys. He had a book printed out. He had the equipment guy get a book printed of all their faces, and all their names, cause he’s like ‘I need to know their names. We need to talk, so I’m gonna find their names and I’m gonna say ‘Hey so and so how was your weekend?’ So they know I know them and maybe we should get to know each other so there’s chemistry on the field.’
While NFL rosters have a tendency of adding plenty of new players year over year, the quarterback said the disconnect is not as serious as what his wife made it out to sound.
“No, I think those guys understand where I’m coming from,” Stafford said in September. “They see me come in this building every single day and know how I go to work, know how I interact with everybody and we didn’t really think too much about it to be honest with you.
“I’m not too worried about it. Nobody in that locker room is too worried about it, I can promise you that. We’ve completely moved on not that we ever really stopped to think about it, to be honest with you. But yeah, I’m not too worried about it.”
To Stafford’s credit, move on, they did. With the added and unfortunate wrinkle of losing Cooper Kupp to start the 2023 season, Stafford has quickly developed some chemistry with wideout Puka Nacua, the team’s leading receiver in Kupp’s absence.
If that’s unfamiliarity with your teammates, then the Rams should hope that Stafford forgets his teammates’ names this season.