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News » Detroit Lions Inside Slant 2009-05-04

Detroit Lions Inside Slant 2009-05-04

Detroit Lions Inside Slant 2009-05-04
Now that the Lions have made Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft -- and a very, very rich man, with $41.7 million guaranteed -- all Stafford has to do is live up to it.

That's not going to be easy.

Besides of the usual pressures that face the No. 1 pick, Stafford faces some unique circumstances.

He will be linked to Bobby Layne, the Lions' last great quarterback, because they went to the same Texas high school. He will join a team that just suffered through the NFL's first 0-16 season. And he will play for fans who wanted Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry, stung by the failures of quarterbacks the Lions have taken high in the draft -- Chuck Long, Andre Ware, Joey Harrington.

When the Lions unveiled their new logo and uniform five days before the draft, fans chanted "Cur-ry!" and "Don't draft Staf-ford!"

When Stafford was picked, fans booed from the draft party at Ford Field in Detroit to the actual draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Just before Stafford came on stage to shake the hand of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, fans at Radio City chanted "Over-rated!"

"You can't try to please everybody," Stafford said. "The No. 1 thing I have to do is go in there and try to work hard for my teammates, my coaches, the owners, the team, and get wins, because winning cures a lot of stuff. Hopefully that's what I can do."

Four days before the draft, general manager Martin Mayhew didn't flinch when asked about the fans' pro-Curry and anti-Stafford chants and how the negative environment might affect the No. 1 pick.

"That's something you try to figure out about these guys before you select them," Mayhew said. "Can they deal with it if things aren't going well? Whether it's Stafford or Curry or whoever it is, we've gone through that process with them. So if things aren't going well, we have a feel for how those players might react."

Stafford met with Lions officials at the NFL Scouting Combine. He visited Lions' headquarters in Allen Park. Lions officials put Stafford through a private workout at Georgia. What did they want to know?

"Everything," Stafford said. "It's extensive. Obviously if you have the No. 1 pick, you've got to do your homework. We talked about anything and everything, to tell you the truth. ... I just was me. If they didn't like me, they didn't like me. I understand that. But I was trying to be as truthful and as honest as I possibly could with them."

Stafford is prepared for the challenge, according to his father, John. In high school, Stafford played in front of 30,000 fans. At 17, he went to Georgia as the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the nation, according to several scouting services. He started as a freshman in the SEC. For three years, he dealt with the scrutiny of media and fans.

"Matthew has always been very mature," Stafford's father said. "He understands the pressures that are associated with it. He genuinely likes people, and I think he'll build relationships with media and fans and everyone else.

"He just understands what the process is. You're not always going to have a whole bunch of supporters. Every one single one of these guys, you're going to have some people who like the pick, some people who don't. He gets it, and he'll move forward from it."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 4, 2009

Shemiah LeGrande Name: Shemiah LeGrande
Position: DT
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