As Matthew Stafford headed into the meeting that would change his life, he texted his wife, Kelly, and wrote, “Well, here we go.” The Detroit Lions president, Rod Wood, was waiting in the room. The Lions owner, Sheila Ford Hamp, was on speaker phone.

Stafford, who freely admits, “I never thought I would ever finish my career anywhere else,” had made what he calls the toughest decision of his life, to seek out a trade for a better shot at a championship. He was about to turn 33. The Lions were starting yet another upheaval — the fourth since he’d been here. He looked at the future and saw everything he loved if he stayed here, and everything he dreamed of if he left.

"I've always wanted to play in those big games, I feel like I will excel in those situations," he says. "I wanted to shoot my shot.” 

In a long, free-wheeling conversation via FaceTime this week, Stafford spoke with passion, humor, sadness and hope about the events of the last few weeks since that meeting took place, and how, in one blockbuster deal, he went from a Lion-for-life to the L.A. Rams’ new starting quarterback.

Throughout the talk, Stafford remained torn. He was sitting by the windows of his house in Bloomfield Township. His four daughters were tucked away in bed. His love for “the place where all our kids were born” is fierce. And his dream was to stay in Detroit until his wheels fell off, to be here “the next 10 years and we win two Super Bowls.”