So a few moments ago I learned of the trade that brought Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Rams in exchange for two first-round picks, a third-round pick and Jared Goff, the 26-year-old signal caller.
My initial reaction was, “Holy shit! The Rams got themselves a quarterback!”—and I texted a friend raving about the deal.
Then, however, I thought about Stafford, age 33 and a collector of few-to-zero meaningful NFL wins. I thought about strong arms being a v-e-r-y different thing than victorious arms; thought about all the hits he’s absorbed; all the bad habits he’s probably embedded into his psyche.
After that, I thought about Richard Todd.
Back in the late 1970s-through-early 1980s, Richard Todd was the Jets’ cornerstone—a hard-throwing University of Alabama product who replaced Joe Namath and guided New York from embarrassing slugs to the 1982 AFC Championship Game (one the Jets admittedly lost when, oof, Todd threw five interceptions). By 1984, however, New York decided to go with a younger QB, Ken O’Brien, and Todd was shipped off to the Saints for a first-round draft choice.
At the time, the people of New Orleans were giddy. In the gap between Archie Manning’s (wasted) prime and the consummation of the deal, the Saints had gone through crap quarterback after crap quarterback after crap quarterback. Now, though, with a loaded roster and a win-at-all-costs mantra, New Orleans was ready. Todd clearly served as the final piece of the puzzle—a natural-born leader, a guy who survived and thrived in New York, a tough dude who proved he could win in both college and the pros.
Todd wasn’t merely bad—he was dysentery. Over 14 starts in 1984, he threw 11 touchdowns with 19 interceptions, and the Saints finished 7-9. The following year, Todd lost his only two starts, adding four picks to three touchdown passes. He was eventually replaced by the immortal Dave Wilson. When asked about the faded arm early in 1985, Coach Bum Phillips could only say of Todd, “He’s one of our quarterbacks right now.”
[Translation: Fuckity fuck. I traded for a battered Earl Campbell, and now I’ve got this stiff, too.]
It is entirely possible Stafford becomes the Rams’ savior; takes a franchise one player away from the Super Bowl and lifts it to the highest level.
It is also entirely possible Stafford is the new Richard Todd.
Only in a bigger market.
PS: The Jets, being the Jets, used the first-round pick snared from the Saints to select Ron Faurot, Arkansas defensive lineman. His NFL career lasted 20 games.