Ex-Lions QB Matthew Stafford on hand for Miguel Cabrera's moment: 'What a pro'

The Detroit News

Former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford left Detroit and became a Super Bowl champion.

He returned to his old stomping grounds and witnessed history Saturday.

Stafford, who spent 12 seasons in Detroit before he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in January 2021 for three draft picks and quarterback Jared Goff, was at Comerica Park as Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera collected his 3,000th career hit, becoming the 33rd major leaguer to do it, and just the seventh to achieve 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.

Former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, center, acknowledges the crowd after he is put on the scoreboard screen in the eighth inning.  At right are Tigers owner Chris Ilitch and Marian Ilitch.

Stafford, who was in town with wife Kelly, to break ground on the SAY Detroit Education Center, joined Bally Sports Detroit's Matt Shepard and Craig Monroe in the booth during the seventh inning of the Tigers' 13-0 victory over the Rockies in Game 1 of a doubleheader. 

The timing couldn't have been better for Stafford.

"It was so cool, just to see the Detroit faithful stand up for every at-bat he's had tonight," Stafford, wearing a shirt emblazoned with Cabrera's name, told Monroe and Shepard. "Obviously, when he got 3,000 that first (at-bat), I was lucky enough to be in the stands and see that. What a pro that guy's been — Miguel — for this city for so many years. What a professional hitter, great guy to be around. So cool to be able to be, luckily, in the stadium when he makes history like that."

While with the Lions, Stafford broke most of Detroit's career passing marks. His 45,109 yards is nearly triple the total for Bobby Layne, the next man on the list, while Stafford's 282 touchdowns more than doubles Layne's. For passers with more than 500 attempts, Stafford also holds the franchise marks for highest completion percentage and quarterback rating.

And, though playoff appearances were rare, and playoff victories eluded him, Stafford remains fond of where he spend the first 12 seasons of his NFL career.

"I was 21 years old when I came here, and left when I was 33," Stafford said on the broadcast. "I got married when I was in town here, all my kids were born here in the area. I just grew up as a human being, and as an athlete, so it was great to have the support of people here in Detroit for so many years, both personally and professionally. I still love coming back to Detroit and seeing everybody. It's a great place we called home for a long time."