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Lions' Matthew Stafford says he's had 'positive' reaction to essay on social issues

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

In recent weeks, Matthew Stafford has become one of the most outspoken members of the Detroit Lions on social issues. His biggest statement was a piece for The Players Tribune titled “We Can’t Just Stick to Football,” which highlighted his thoughts on social injustice and some of his experiences with teammates.

“There are some things that are way more important than football right now,” Stafford wrote in the essay.

Stafford’s contract becomes more trade-friendly after this season, with two years remaining. The Lions would take about a $25 million cap hit if they dealt him, less than the $35 million they’d pay him to stay.

What makes Stafford’s statements impactful is that he’s mostly a private person off the field, especially on non-football issues. He was one of the vocal members during the Lions’ publicized demonstration last month when they canceled a practice following the  Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wis.

With the nation’s attention on social issues, Stafford felt like it was time for him to speak out, and among teammates and others, it was well received.

“I've had a bunch of good comments from teammates and people that aren't teammates to just people I know either back home in Dallas, Atlanta or wherever. It's been positive,” Stafford said Wednesday. “Obviously, I'm not on social media, so I'm sure there's plenty of people out there that are negative about it, but I just want to get my views out there. ... I just thought was important to do. I felt like I wanted to do it and I'm glad that it got some positive feedback.”

Stafford, who hasn’t had much of a presence on social media during his pro career, tends to do things more in the background, including work with his foundation and other charitable work in Metro Detroit.

More: Rogers: Matt Patricia has no good answers for Lions' consistent inconsistency

He’s chosen to do his work without the media focus and speaking to the injustices that he sees around him, and trying to bring attention to the bigger social issues. It’s a small peak out of the turtle shell for Stafford, but it’s likely not going to be the start of a constant presence.

“It's obviously something I don't do on a regular basis; I'm not going to share with the world what I had for lunch and breakfast, like a lot of people like to do these days,” Stafford joked. “It's not my deal, but I thought this was an important topic.

“I’ve got to give credit to the people here for helping me just figure out the right way, the right avenue. I'm obviously not an Instagram or Twitter guy — or any of that stuff — so finding the right avenue to get my voice out there. I wouldn't say it's something that's gonna continue to be extremely regular, but I thought it was important and I'm glad I did it.”

Taylor case

The Lions have been one of the outspoken teams in the NFL with regard to social issues involving race, having canceled one of the practices in the aftermath of the Jacob Blake shooting in Wisconsin.

On Wednesday it was announced that one of the three officers in the Breonna Taylor case would face charges – three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree. About the same time, the Lions were finishing practice and hadn’t had a chance to process it.

Lions defensive lineman Trey Flowers had some initial thoughts on the decision by the Jefferson County (Ky.) grand jury.

“It's definitely tough,” Flowers said. “For her family, I feel like it's something where they probably don't think they received justice. My heart breaks for them.”

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard