By: Will Burchfield
The Lions have been one of the most creative teams in taking advantage of the NFL’s new celebration rules, but one player has been noticeably absent from the end zone exhibitions: Matthew Stafford.
As Golden Tate is dropping the people’s elbow or Marvin Jones and Eric Ebron are sparring like Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, Stafford is often seen lingering in the background or jogging toward the sideline.
The Lions want to change that. They want to get their quarterback involved, even if it makes him uncomfortable.
“We’re trying, we’re trying,” said Tate, the leader of the team’s celebration committee. “He’s so focused on throwing his next touchdown.”
“If you go back and look at it, you see him in the frame and he’s just awkwardly like, ‘Alright, good job,'” said Tate, mimicking Stafford by doling out pats on the back to a group of reporters. “‘I’m gonna get out your way now, go ahead do your thing.’ That’s just who he is.”
Running back Ameer Abdullah, who was one of four players involved in the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em celebration, said Stafford’s moment is coming.
“When the time comes, Stafford’s gonna hop in and do his thing. He’s more of a spike-the-ball kind of guy,” said Abdullah.
So is T.J. Lang, apparently. The outgoing guard tried tracking down Abdullah after his touchdown versus the Packers on Monday night, eager to celebrate, but wasn’t quick enough to catch him.
Later on the sideline, a disappointed Lang asked Abdullah, “Will you celebrate with me? I ran all the way to the corner, you just ran right back.”
“Next touchdown come find me,” Abdullah replied. “I want you to spike it.”
Abdullah laughed on Thursday when asked why he snuffed Lang originally.
“He has to tell me,” said Abdullah. “He can’t just expect that mental telepathy, it wasn’t there that play. But I was trying to get in there again and get him the ball so he could do whatever he wanted to do.”
It was Marvin Jones who eventually granted Lang the opportunity to channel his inner Rob Gronkowksi. Lang didn’t disappoint.
With players around the NFL upping the ante in the end zone, Tate admitted he’s “starting to feel some pressure.”
“I’m not going to lie. It’s been put on this platform where I need to one-up or match it or we need to one-up or match it. It’s fun. As long we don’t get too distracted on what’s important, and that’s winning, it’s okay,” said Tate.
The idea for the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em celebration was spawned on the bus ride to Lambeau Field on Monday night. When it comes to choreography, that’s the way Tate likes it.
“We try to spend as little time as possible just because that’s energy that could be spent on game-planning,” he said. “It wouldn’t be fair for us four guys to be planning a lengthy celebration when other seven guys are the reason why we scored.
“We have a committee, we throw ideas in a group text, our fans have done a great job at giving us ideas. Usually it’s like the day before the game after we complete our part of the walk through, we all go kind of discuss them.”