Fireside Chat #2: Matthew Stafford Interview

>> 2.05.2010

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for . . .

Crucial thanks to everyone at the AXE Hair team, who made this possible.  Second, I’d like to thank noted sportswriter and blogger Greg Eno, who gave me some awesome pointers on doing audio interviews.  Without his help, this decently-listenable interview would have been a laughably amateurish affair.  If you need any help getting your speaking or writing chops up, hit Greg up at

Of course, get signed up for the AXE Hair Action challenge at the AXE Hair facebook page—and see if you can top Matthew’s Hair Action!  Finally, a tip of the hat to Matthew himself, who is a consummate pro, incredibly sharp, and a lot more polished at this than any 22-year-old ought to be . . .

. . . more thoughts later.


No More Phone Calls, We Have a Winner

victorious The winner of the TLIW Reader giveaway, who will receive all the tools necessary to defeat all comers in the AXE Hair Action Challenge is . . .!

They asked:

If you could redo one play from the 2009 season, what would it be, and how would you do it?

What really drew me to this question was something I remembered reading last year: Matthew Stafford has an astonishing knack for remembering plays:

Detroit Free Press, April 27: "Rope 244, Pattern One, X Post, Cover 3," he said Sunday during his introductory news conference at Allen Park.

Stafford recited the play as if it were his phone number. He even remembered that it was a 22-yard completion -- and the receiver's name.

"I don't know if it helps me," Stafford said of his ability, "but I guess I learn from my mistakes, and I can remember seeing a certain defense and how it looked while I was playing and be able to recall that during a game."

Coach Jim Schwartz has been impressed with Stafford's recall ability.

"Part of this and any business, you need to learn from your mistakes," Schwartz said. "You need to be able to know where you've been in the past and know where you're going to go in the future."

So, if this is all for real, then Stafford ought to have a really excellent answer for us when I interview him today.  Yes, you read that correctly, I’ll be interviewing Matthew via phone, while he’s kickin’ it in Miami for Super Bowl week . . . so, keep your eyes peeled for that!

Oh, and  Keep your eyes on your email!


AXE Hair Challenge Satellite Contest Reminder

>> 2.04.2010

OFFICIAL COURTESY REMINDER: TLIW reader contest entries are due by 11:59 p.m. tonight!  At the stroke of midnight, this contest turns into a pumpkin—and the winner will be announced shortly thereafter.  Comment on the contest thread with your question to Matthew Stafford (and email address!) for a chance to win a Flip DV camera and some AXE swag!


Matthew Stafford’s Axe Hair Action Challenge

>> 2.02.2010

Axe Hair Products

When my high school girlfriend and I started dating, she showed her sister a picture of me; her sister reacted thus: “It looks like he spends a lot of time on his hair.

That high school girlfriend is now my wife.  Coincidence?  I think not.

We all know about Matt Stafford’s girl-approved hair.  What we didn’t know before today is exactly how enthusiastically ladies approve of it:

So, as you can see, AXE products (and, apparently, a blue Mustang convertible) help Matt get plenty of “Hair Action”.  Now, he and AXE have turned the tables: they’re challenging you to make a video showing how AXE helps you get Hair Action.

"But Ty," you say. “I have no AXE hair products in my warder, nor digital camcorder with which to make such a film!”  That, my friends, is where you are wrong.  You see, AXE has also partnered with me, and provided me with an AXE Hair Action Challenge Kit to give away.  It contains:

If you look at the Facebook page for the challenge, there are some high-stakes prizes.  There are going to be four separate video sub-challenges, each running for two weeks.  Besides the daily prizes for new submissions, each of these four sub-challenges boast their own grand prize.  After that, there’s a further, ultimate grand prize—the winner of which will get an AXE-subsidized trip to the professional sporting event of their choice.

I want to make sure a Lions fan wins this thing.  It would be a crying shame if the savior of the most beleaguered group of sports fans on Earth issues a worldwide challenge, with a bounty of fabulous prizes at stake, and some stinking Cowboys fan gets showered with undeserved glory.

So, what do you need to do to win the Hair Action Challenge Kit?  A pocket Hercules of digital media, and a treasure trove of excellence de coiffure?  Simply reply to this thread in a comment, with your personal answer to this query:

If you could ask Matt Stafford one question, what would it be?

The winner will be chosen solely by me, based on criteria known solely to me, solely at my completely arbitrary discretion.*  HINT: entries will need to come from a a verifiable person—so please, if you don’t log in/register to comment, include your email address in your entry.  The contest ends on Thursday, February 4th, at 11:59 pm EST.

. . . I’ll also make sure your question gets answered.

*Under section 37B of the contract, it states quite clearly that all offers shall become null and void if -- and you can read it for yourself in this photostatic copy -- "I, the undersigned, shall forfeit all rights, privileges, and licenses herein and herein contained," et cetera, et cetera... "Fax mentis incendium gloria cultum," et cetera, et cetera... "Memo bis punitor delicatum"! It's all there, black and white, clear as crystal! You stole fizzy lifting drinks! You bumped into the ceiling which now has to be washed and sterilized, so you get nothing! You lose! Good day sir!


Senior Bowl Bullet Points

>> 2.01.2010

26 JAN 2010:   Mike Iupati (77) of Idaho goes against Purdue's Mike Neal (92) during the 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl North practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.

Icon SMI

All last week, I combed through available Senior Bowl information.  After highlighting some potential targets the Lions might be looking at, I compiled notes from all practice reports I could find, sat down in a comfy chair, and watched the first half or so with a careful eye and a ready spreadsheet.  The results?


  • Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan: I’ll cut right to the chase: dude's a beast, period.  He completely outclassed every other player on the field.  He’s not the right size/frame for this defense, and he won’t be there at the top of the second, but it’s worth mentioning that he’s a hell of a pass rusher.
  • Geno Atkins, DT, Georgia: The 6'-1", 286-pound Atkins flashed incredible speed and penetration all week in practice, and looked dominant in the game itself.  Blowing back several different guards, and getting good push against double-teams, too, Atkins really caught my eye—as anyone who was reading my Twitter feed knows.  Obviously, at 286, Atkins doesn’t have the size Schwartz and Cunningham want—but he doesn’t look flabby and maxed-out like last year’s Senior Bowl darling, Peria Jerry, did.


  • Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho: The virtues of the 6’-5”, 325-pound left guard had been extolled by all, including's Phil Zaroo, all week long.  Talk of his size, athleticism, strength, and total domination of drillwork had spread far and wide.  In the game, however, Iupati really struggled—especially when they moved him out of usual left guard spot. NFLN's Mike Mayock was the color man, and pointed out that Iupati was “grabbing” instead of “punching”.  That is, slowing down his man by bear hugging him and hoping to control him, rather than driving his hands into the other guy’s chest and pushing him around.  Iupati went back to left guard and looked better, but there’s no question that he had a terrible performance to cap a week of hype.
  • Ciron Black, OT/OG, LSU: Black stands an impressive 6’-5”, 331.  He played both guard and tackle, and showed excellent athleticism for his size.  At tackle, Black struggled against Brandon Graham—but then, so did everyone else.  During practice, however, Black showed equal adeptness in handling both speed and power rushers.  Coming into this week, he was a mid-round guard, but if he performs at the combine looking like a legit LT, his stock will rise significantly.  I'm hoping for somewhere in the middle . . .
  • Mike Johnson, OG, Alabama: according to SI, the 6'-5", 306-pound cut an imposing figure at the weigh-in, and played up to his stature doing the first day of practice.  In the game, I was really impressed at his power, feet, and control; he drove guys back.  Chad Reuter of noted that Johnson had no problem with “Mount Cody” during practice. 
  • John Jerry, OT/OG, Ole Miss: Jerry, the brother of Peria, weighed in at a whopping 6’-5 1/2”, 332.  Absolutely built like a tackle, Jerry has played both RG and RT for Mississippi, and excelled in the first two practices at both of those spots.  However, they tried him at LT and he really struggled.  I didn’t see much of him during the game, but he’s a prospect I’m going to watch very carefully at the combine.


  • Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State: the 5’-10” cornerback got Jim Schwartz' attention with an enormous custom-painted RV in the parking lot—and mine with some good coverage and strong tackling.  Word was that he flashed outstanding ball skills in drills all week long.  According to Bill Huber of, his best performance was on a one-on-one coverage drill. ($)
  • Taylor Mays, S, USC:  Mays is well known amongst Lions fans, having garnered a little hype as a candidate to be their #1 overall pick last year.  Mays went back to USC and had a okay-but-not-great senior season.  Reasons for his relative anonymity have varied from “teams now scheme away from him” to “he’s better off as a linebacker”—but it’s clear that Mays is nowhere near a #2 overall pick.  During practice, he dominated on Monday, then was invisible the rest of the week.  During the game, he whiffed on several tackles, but did have a very nice interception.  Mays remains a head-scratcher: a prospect with Top 10 size and speed, but wild inconsistency.

If you're wondering where your favorite prospect is, don't worry. This wasn't meant to be a complete list--just players at positions of need who established a rep during practice week, who stood out to me during the game, or both.  If you’re wondering where the complete three-down backs with blazing speed are, they weren’t at the Senior Bowl trying to improve their stock.  Same goes for wideouts who can draw coverage away from Megatron, cornerbacks who can step in as our #1 starter, “franchise left tackles”, etc.

I've been getting draft questions non-stop for weeks now, and I’ve kept replying: “too early, too early, too early”.  There’s a rhythm to this pre-draft dance.  The college All-Star games are just the first step.  Watching them, and keeping tabs on the practice reports, gives me an idea of who to pay special attention to at the combine—which is when we really learn what’s going on.


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