By Ashley Dunkak

ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – A Dallas native, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford once had a soft spot for the Dallas Cowboys. His dad’s company had tickets, so occasionally Stafford and his family would go to games.

Over the last five years, though, the household has converted. The Staffords are Cowboys fans no more.

“They’re full-on Lions fans now,” Stafford said with a smile. “We don’t allow that kind of talk around here.”

Not everyone is so totally on board, though, the quarterback quickly noted.

“I have close friends that are die-hard Cowboys fans, probably still even when they’re playing the Lions,” Stafford said. “They want me to have a really good game and lose it in the end or something, but my family’s cheering for me. That’s for sure.”

Growing up in Dallas, Stafford had the posters, the trading cards, all of it. One Halloween he even dressed up as a Cowboys player – plastic helmet, generic jersey and full pads underneath.

“That’s what everybody did – it was Dallas,” Stafford said. “They were winning Super Bowls, and that’s the way it went.”

Stafford still draws a little inspiration from some former Cowboys though. The connection between former Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman and former wide receiver Michael Irvin is an element Stafford tries to replicate.

“His biggest deal was timing,” Stafford said. “He and Michael Irvin had unbelievable timing, [tight end Jay] Novacek, all those guys. You watch him play, and he was cutting loose the out route early. He and Irvin just had that thing. That’s something that’s fun to watch whenever you get it going. I’m there with some guys on our team for sure.”

All the experience between Stafford and superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who looked fully healthy Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, should prove to be a huge help again as the Lions host the Cowboys.

If Detroit can take advantage of the crucial opportunities it missed last week, Stafford should have a reasonable shot at defeating that Cowboys team he idolized so long ago.


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