Well, a few days later, Mike Ditka’s assessment that Matt Stafford shouldn’t wear his hat backwards still has legs, so I guess its time to address it.
Ditka had lots of praise for Stafford. He complimented his raw talent, his intelligence, his ability to make all the throws but for some reason feels the need to address Stafford’s appearance, and in turn question his leadership.
Let me remind you, this is the same Mike Ditka who won his only super bowl as a coach with the headband wearing “rebel” Jim McMahon as his quarterback. The same Mike Ditka who famously traded his whole draft to choose the dreadlock adorned Ricky Williams for the New Orleans Saints. Maybe the failure of the latter changed his outlook on the former.
Ditka is an older, tough nosed coach and former player who is obviously a little out of touch with the current personality of the NFL. I agree with him that people who are making millions of dollars and representing their team as a leader should hold themselves to a higher standard. Much controversy centered around Marshawn Lynch during super bowl week for not really talking to the media, other than to meet reporters for a minimum required time to avoid fines. He was just uncomfortable. Russell Wilson on the other hand was the model citizen and looked and played the part spot on.
There are all kinds of examples that could lead you to either conclusion as far as addressing appearance and generally how players hold themselves. For every backwards, sideways hat wearing player like Colin Kaepernick, there is a player like Wilson to counteract him. Stafford isn’t either of them.
There is plenty to criticize about Matt Stafford, but there’s also plenty to like. He’s set nearly every Lions passing record there is, and after the players that came before him, we may be under appreciating Stafford’s talent because expectations are so high. Anyone want Scott Mitchell back? How about Joey Harrington? Stafford is young; he just turned 26 less than two weeks ago. He is in no way a problem personality or leadership wise; he says all the right things, apparently behaves properly off the field and has shown toughness and leadership on it. He needs to improve in many ways, but the least of any concern is how he wears his hat, by all appearances, he’s a good young man to lead the Lions down the right path. All he has to at this point is finish the job.