Lions' Stafford takes pride in ironman streak

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
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Matthew Stafford will make his 81st consecutive start Sunday.

Allen Park — Andrew Luck didn’t miss a start his first three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, establishing himself as one of the league’s best young quarterbacks.

But all NFL players understand, you’re just one play away from having to miss time. Luck missed two games early last season with a shoulder injury, and after returning for four more starts, he was shelved the remainder of the season when he suffered a lacerated kidney from taking a big hit while scrambling.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford knows the anguish of having to watch from the sidelines. He was sidelined six games as a rookie by knee and shoulder injuries and 13 more his sophomore season with additional shoulder problems.

During that stretch, he picked up the unflattering nickname “Glassford” for some fans, and his own teammate, linebacker Zack Follett, controversially called the quarterback a China doll.

“Any time you’re injured, it’s difficult,” Stafford said. “It’s not so much because of what’s said about you as just, there’s a feeling when you’re injured in the locker room and you’re not playing. In the NFL the team has to move on. …You kind of just have to move on to the next guy and that’s the worst part of it, just not being involved as much as you’d like to be.”

But in the five years since, Stafford hasn’t missed a game. His string of 80 consecutive starts is currently the fifth-longest streak at his position and the most by any quarterback in team history. That’s impressive considering he’s been sacked 89 times the past two seasons.

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“I take a lot of pride in it,” Stafford said.  “I put a lot of work in during the offseason, I put a lot of work in during the season. To be available on Sunday is one of the biggest things, if not the biggest thing in the NFL, especially at the quarterback position.

“There’s some luck involved with that, no question,” Stafford said. “What kind of nicks and bruises and injuries do you get? Can you play through them? Can you not? I’ve been lucky with those and hopefully that continues.”

Stafford will make his 81st consecutive start on Sunday against his Colts. For Luck, the meter is starting back at zero. For both, the goal is the same – win the game and stay healthy.

Twitter: @justin_rogers

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