The second the Rams’ Super Bowl win over the Bengals was final on Sunday, the narrative about Matthew Stafford’s Hall of Fame candidacy took off and hasn’t slowed down since.
Everyone is chiming in with their takes on Stafford and the Hall of Fame, including former Legion of Boom member Richard Sherman. Sherman weighed in on the idea that Stafford is already bound for the HOF, pointing out his’ lack of individual accolades, and even compared his resume to that of Falcons QB Matt Ryan. Sounds like Sherman isn’t quite ready to carve out Stafford’s bust for Canton.
First, Stafford still has a long way to go in his NFL career. He turned 34 less than a week before the Super Bowl and has shown no signs of slowing down and hanging up his cleats. The way it’s looking, he might play until he’s 40, playing another six or seven years before retiring. Should he do that, he’ll be guaranteed a Hall nod; since he’ll be top five in so many passing categories, it will be hard to keep him out.
Stafford is just shy of 50,000 passing yards right now. He’ll pass that milestone in short order, with his first pass of 2022 as he’s just five yards shy. In 13 years in the NFL, Stafford has passed for less than 4,000 yards just four times. Two of those seasons were shortened by injury, where he played in just three games in 2010 and eight in 2019. Another one of those seasons was Stafford’s rookie year of 2009, where he played 10 games. So, it’s safe to say if he’s healthy, he’s throwing for at least 4,000 yards for the foreseeable future. Should he play several more years, Stafford could end up with around 75,000 passing yards, and over 400 TD passes. Currently, only eight guys can say they’ve thrown over 400 NFL TDs in their career.
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But that’s the future, and none of us know how the next few years will play out. I understand Sherman’s sentiment on Stafford, although he does have some gaudy statistics from his days in Detroit and now in L.A. It’s tough to judge Stafford because he played for such an inept franchise for so long. Stafford still produced to a certain extent, even though he played in just three postseason games in 12 years with the Lions. But I’m not nearly going to hang all of that organization’s shortcomings on Stafford. No, he could not bring the Lions out of obscurity, but not many QBs would have.
Sherman’s argument that Stafford’s accolades are comparable to Ryan’s is a fair. Stafford is a one-time pro-bowler, while Ryan is a four-time selection. Ryan also has an MVP, Offensive Player of the Year award, and All-Pro selection on his resume. Stafford has none of those individual accomplishments on his. But the one Stafford does have that Ryan and the Falcons let slip away is a Super Bowl victory. And we all know when it comes to the QB position, that’s what moves the needle. How many rings does a guy have? If you’ve got the gaudy numbers over a career and can add Super Bowl champion to the mix, then you’ve got a great chance at the hall.
I know one person that undoubtedly disagrees with Sherm’s take on Stafford’s HOF worthiness. That would be Matt’s wife, Kelly Stafford.
Even if Stafford isn’t a Hall of Famer now, it’s only a matter of time before he crosses that threshold, especially if he can put together another Super Bowl campaign with the Rams. Win a second ring, and there’s no question about Stafford’s HOF candidacy. Eli Manning will make the HOF on the back of two Super Bowl runs where he won the MVP both times. That’s pretty much all Manning has on his resume besides being a Manning, of course. Take away the 2007 & 2011 postseason runs for Eli, and he’s just another guy named Manning.
So, if I had to decide on Stafford right now, I’d say no, he’s not a Hall of Famer. Not on the first ballot anyway. He needs a little more time, a few more winning campaigns, and a couple of more deep playoff runs before I can go there. But Stafford’s certainly a lot closer than Sherman is giving him credit for.