Before the last drops of champagne had dried, Stafford signed a four-year contract extension that includes a guaranteed $120 million. He also became the star of a clever AT&T commercial that ends with him winking and alluding to the 12 years he spent in Detroit before the Rams acquired him from the Lions in January 2021.
He ended his eventful offseason with a surprise Instagram debut. A photo of him wearing a huge and shiny Rams championship ring appeared on an account a few days ago with his name and a blue checkmark, causing a stir because he had been avoiding social media for a long time.
It was a big deal. Almost as big as the fact that on Sunday, the opening day of the Rams’ training camp at UC Irvine, Stafford passed for the first time since he received an anti-inflammatory injection in his right arm shortly after the Super Bowl.
He was more pleased with his throw than with his social media venture.
“Look, I have no idea. I have no idea,” an embarrassed Stafford said of the Instagram post that featured the ring. but cut out his wife Kelly. “You can ask me all the football questions you want. Don’t ask me about it.”
In terms of football, he said everything went well on Sunday with his arm, which had been troubling him during the Rams’ march to the championship. He threw smoothly, confidently, regaining his time and footing and shaking off the residue that had built up because he didn’t throw during mini-camp or off-season training.
His activism has encouraged his teammates as they embark on what they hope will be another long journey that will end with another unwearable diamond-studded championship ring.
“I knew he was going to be great,” said quarterback Aaron Donald, who hinted at retirement before his contract was restructured in June to make him the highest paid non-quarterback in NFL history. “He’s a tough guy. I knew he would be ready.”
Stafford immediately plunged into the task at hand. He rebuilt his ties with wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson and tight end Tyler Higbee, and began reading wide receiver Allen Robinson, who made some outstanding side tackles and others in traffic, befitting his reputation as one of the best in the NFL. the best receivers in situations of disputed catch.
Robinson, who signed with the Rams as a free agent, and Kupp give the Rams versatility and quality opportunities. Coach Sean McVeigh called Robinson a “pro”, a compliment that Stafford echoed.
“Allen is a really smart player,” said Stafford, who saw Robinson a lot and became a fan while Robinson was with the Chicago Bears and Stafford was with the Lions. “I was really impressed by his ability not only to capture on a piece of paper what we are doing, crosses and tac-toes, but also the nuances of what we are trying to do in each play. When there are guys who can think like that and play like that, it makes my job a lot easier.”
Stafford would be involved in field counting throughout camp, if McVeigh put it, though McVeigh said that didn’t stop Stafford from doing anything on Sunday. Stafford said he has a daily plan to build arm strength but is hopeful that it’s fluid and admitted he can get irritated if he feels too limited.
“It’s an interesting thing, trying to have a bit of a governor and at the same time just trying to be as smart as I can. It’s a process,” he said. “We’re going to have to sit there, work on it, trust it, and we’ll figure it out as we go.”
It’s been a good camp opening day for the Rams, who still have some work to do while camp continues.
McVeigh said the team did not put All-Pro defenseman Jalen Ramsey (shoulder surgery) on the disabled list because doctors allowed Ramsey to run and “things above the neck”.
McVeigh added: “To be able to see him here with his teammates, with all the different things we ask of him, he felt good. We felt good about it.” But McVeigh said the safety of Quentin Lake, who was drafted from UCLA, was on the pup list due to a knee injury.
Lineup will be formed in the coming weeks. The Rams approach is already defined. Their mantra is that they have turned the page on their championship season and are ready to do whatever it takes to repeat it, no matter how difficult it may be.
“It’s a different team. It’s a different year. Just because we did something last year, it doesn’t mean something will happen this year. We have to go out and earn,” Stafford said.
“The opportunities that we got in those games last year were earned. Are you asking yourself what opportunities are you willing to take? It requires sacrificing yourself, working hard, being a great teammate, and so on.”
Their journey began on a hot July day. Just don’t rely on Stafford’s social media accounts to find out how it ends.