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Lions: Matthew Stafford had false-positive test for COVID-19, is not infected

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

The Detroit Lions announced quarterback Matthew Stafford has been removed from the COVID-19 reserve list and that the test that landed him on the list was a false positive. 

Matthew Stafford

"Today we removed Matthew Stafford from the COVID-IR list and onto the active roster," the team said in a statement. "As a result of a False-Positive test result, he was forced due to NFL/NFLPA protocols to sit out until he received two negative tests. His testing sequence for the Pre-Entry period was: negative, negative, False-Positive. The next three tests were all negative.

"To be clear, Matthew does not have COVID-19 and never has had COVID-19 and the test in question was a False-Positive," the statement continued. "Also, all of Matthew's family have been tested and everyone is negative.”

Stafford's family added a layer of concern to his potential positive test given he and his wife have four young children, including daughter Tyler, who was born this summer. Wife Kelly is also potentially higher risk after requiring surgery to remove a non-cancerous brain tumor last year. 

Kelly posted a message on Instagram stating the past four days were "somewhat of a nightmare."

"For 24 hours, we believed my husband was positive for covid," Kelly wrote. "We were all tested the day after and we were all negative including Matthew. Then he tested negative again, then again, again, and again. After his second negative, we were made aware of the 'false positives' and how this was one of those cases.

"I have been losing my mind because of how my family has been treated since my husband was put on COVID-IR. Even after we knew it was false positive, our school told us they were not allowed back, I was approached in a grocery store and told I was 'endangering others,' my kids were harassed and kicked off a playground, I was told I needed to wait in my car when trying to pick up food, and the people closest to us had to get tested just so they could go back to work."

She also slammed the NFL and blamed the league for "not holding themselves accountable." 

"These are people's lives and livelihoods that are in those results in THEIR test sites," Kelly continued. "Maybe we should be absolutely positive a person has covid before releasing that info to the world. I'm sharing our experience because I don't want it happening to any other family that plays for this league."

Stafford is one of eight Lions players who have been placed on the COVID reserve list since testing began early last week. On Monday, the team activated tight end Isaac Nauta after a mandatory five-day waiting period. 

In addition to Stafford, cornerback Justin Coleman was also activated Tuesday. Lions players still on the list are wide receiver Kenny Golladay, tight end T.J. Hockenson, cornerback Amani Oruwariye, punter Arryn Sippos and safety Jalen Elliott. 

Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis, who was on a conference call with local reporters when the team announced Stafford's false positive, was hopeful the league and union will continue to improve testing protocols to minimize these situations in the future. 

"It's one of those things that are going be questionable, for sure," Davis said. "But at the end of the day, we knew coming into this that there were going to be situations like this. It's just something we've got to hope the NFL and the NFLPA can continue to work at to, I guess, to knock things out, knock situations out, that are going to come up like this because, yeah, this might be the first one that we've heard about, but I'm sure there's more that are going to happen.

"Hopefully they come up with a better way, or continue to work on the way that we're doing it, to test everybody and I'm confident that everything will work out."

More: Lions receiver Geronimo Allison opting out of 2020 season

Had Stafford's false positive come late in the week during the regular season, he likely would have had to sit out a Sunday game. That prospect is frightening for the Lions, who lost eight straight while he was out with an injury last season. 

Stafford, 32, is entering his 12th season with the Lions. The No. 1 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft was on track to have one of his best seasons prior to being sidelined by a broken bone in his upper back last season. 

At the time of the injury, he was on pace for nearly 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns, while posting career-highs in yards per attempt, yards per completion and passer rating. 

When Stafford went down, the Lions turned to Jeff Driskel and undrafted rookie David Blough to shoulder the load. This offseason, the team brought in veteran Chase Daniel to serve as the backup. 

Daniel, who has played for some of the game's best offensive coaching in Sean Payton and Andy Reid in New Orleans and Kansas City, has only thrown 149 passes in his 10-year career, but has completed 68.3 percent of those throws, while posting a respectable 87.5 passer rating.

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers