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Matthew Stafford ready to experience whatever reception awaits him in Detroit

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – It's a question Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford said he's gotten asked a couple of time by friends and family this week ahead of this Sunday's Wild Card Round playoff game against the Lions in Detroit.

What kind of reception are you expecting?

"I'm not expecting anything, to be honest with you," Stafford said after Wednesday's practice, after a reporter asked this time. "... I think the biggest thing for me is just go experience whatever that experience is going to be. I understand what the people of Detroit and what the city of Detroit meant to me and my time and my career, what they meant to my family, I hope they feel that back. But at the same time, I'm not a stranger to the situation in understanding that I'm the bad guy coming to town. I'm on the other team, and they don't want success for me. So whatever happens, happens."

The storyline is one of the biggest of this year's NFL playoffs: The return of the Lions' most decorated passer in franchise history, leading a Rams team he won a Super Bowl with in his first season with them back in 2021 against a Lions team that is hosting its first home playoff game in 30 years.

"It's amazing city, it's an amazing group of fans," Stafford said. "The organization does a heck of a job, and I know that they're gonna be excited. I mean, it's gonna be a great atmosphere, probably one of the best we've played in in a long time. It's a group of people that from my experience love the Lions, wanted what was best for them, and now they're playing really good football. They have opportunity to host a playoff game, I mean, they've earned that opportunity. It's going to be a cool experience for those people, and really everybody involved in the game."

Detroit selected Stafford No. 1 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft, and he went on to shatter multiple major franchise passing record across his 12 years with the Lions, including most career passing yards, most career pass completions and most career passing touchdowns, as well as most career game-winning drives.

On a personal level, Detroit is also where Stafford's four daughters were born. Stafford on Wednesday also alluded the challenges he and his wife, Kelly, went through during that time that the city and the team supported them through. Matthew and Kelly also still continue to give back to Detroit.

"So I have nothing but great memories there," Stafford said. "Obviously didn't get it done on the field as much as I wish we could have, but the people that I was lucky enough to know and grow with our people that I'm still close with today and mean a lot to me. So it's a it's a special place for me and my family, and I have a lot of a lot of great memories."

Along those lines, there's not any help Rams head coach Sean McVay needs to provide Stafford this week in terms of managing those emotions.

"I think he'd be a human being," McVay said. "I think it would be not be a human being to not feel a lot of different emotions."

Really, the only help he may need is potentially finding his way to the visitors' locker room in the event muscle memory kicks in.

"I hope I don't end up in the wrong one," Stafford said with a chuckle. "But I do know it's the same tunnel. Both home team and visiting team come out of the same tunnel. I think we have a little side alley we got to take, at least that's what it used to be. But no, it'll be a fun experience. Like I said, I mean, there's a lot leading up to it, obviously I understand all that. But once the ball is snapped, I mean, let's go play football. A ton of respect for who they are as a team and what they've built over the last few years, and it will be a big challenge for us."

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