The Lions quarterback, speaking ahead of the their wild-card game against the visiting Rams, said he will not be using this game to exact any personal vendetta.
Goff helped lead the Lions to their first NFC North title since 1993. Stafford returned from an injury-plagued 2022 to help the Rams get back to the playoffs this season.
Even though the matter has been put to rest, especially because Goff already faced his former team on Oct. 24, 2021, in Los Angeles, that doesn’t mean he can’t have some fun with it.
“Of course,” Goff said via ESPN. “I think it’ll never leave me, and I think that’s a good thing.”
Said Lions head coach Dan Campbell: “I think it means a lot. … And he’s wired the right way. He’s been through this. He’s been to the big one. So, he’s dealt with this a number of times, not just the playoff wins.”
For his part, when Rams head coach Sean McVay looks back at the entire situation, he said he wishes he would’ve handled it differently.
“The thing that I’ll never run away from are mistakes that I’ve made in previous instances,” McVay said on Wednesday. “But when you look back on it, the gratitude for those four years, all the good memories that we had. And then when you end up making a change, that ended up being difficult. And could it have been handled better on my end? Absolutely. And I’ll never run away from that.
“But the further you get away from it, the more that you try to grow as a man, as a person, as the leader that you want to become. He deserved better than the way that it all went down. I’ll acknowledge that. And I think he knows that too. And I’m not afraid to admit to those things, but I think we’re all better being able to look back on those things. And I do have more appreciation for him as time goes on.”
In the house that Stafford built, Goff has a chance to do something that his predecessor never did Sunday — win a playoff game for the Lions. During his 12 years in Detroit, Stafford, the franchise’s all-time passing leader, never won a postseason game. Stafford found immediate playoff success, however, with the Rams, as he helped them win Super Bowl LVI over the Cincinnati Bengals in his first season.
Goff is still searching for his first Super Bowl title after losing 13-3 to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. This year may prove to be one of his best opportunities. Goff lead the Lions to a 12-5 record — which tied for the most wins in franchise history — and joined Stafford as the only other quarterback in team history to throw for 4,500 yards and 30 touchdowns in a season.
“Ton of a respect for [Stafford] and him as a player and everything he’s done,” Goff told ESPN. “He’s a Hall of Fame player in my book and I saw this as an opportunity for me to build my own legacy and being at the ground floor of something special and something that we can hopefully build to even more special than right now.
“I so badly want to win a playoff game for this city that hasn’t had one in so long. We’ve got a home playoff game for the first time in so long, and that’s so much more important than anything personally for me. I want to be a part of this win and do my job the best of my ability.”
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