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O'HARA: Looking back at Stafford's eventful year

Another week, two more entries in what has been an eventful year for Matthew Stafford.

There was a double dip last week—a landmark birthday and a new head coach -- in what has been a year of milestones and changes in his personal life for the Detroit Lions' star quarterback.

Counting backward, here are the notable events and milestones for Stafford and his growing family in the last year: 

Monday – new boss: Matt Patricia officially was announced as the Lions' new head coach. It was no surprise. There had been weeks of speculation that the Lions would hire the former defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots.

Patricia is Stafford's third head coach – following Jim Schwartz (2009-13) and Jim Caldwell (2014-17)  -- since he came to the Lions as the first pick in the 2009 draft.

Wednesday- -- new age QB: Stafford turned 30 on a day of double celebrations.

Patricia was introduced to the media and fans at a press conference at the Lions' Allen Park headquarters. At the same time, Stafford enjoyed a birthday celebration.

Turning the Big 3-0 isn't as daunting for athletes as it used to be. That's particularly true when quarterbacks such as Tom Brady and Drew Brees look like they could play at a high level into their mid-40s if they choose to. 

In Stafford's case, he still looks more like a youthful birthday boy than a grizzled veteran who is going into his 10th NFL season, all with the Lions.

Jan. 8 – college ties: Stafford was in attendance to see his old college team, the University of Georgia, lose in overtime to Alabama in the national championship game. The game was played in Atlanta, where Stafford lives part time in the offseason.

Jan. 1 – coaching change: Caldwell was fired after four seasons as head coach. Stafford has said often how much he admired how Caldwell changed the culture of the team and the franchise.

Dec. 31 – bittersweet sweep: Stafford passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns as the Lions end the 2017 regular season with a 35-11 win over the Packers at Ford Field. Combined with a road win over the Packers in Week nine, it gives the Lions their first sweep of the Packers since 1991.

It was bittersweet, though, because it was obvious that it was Caldwell's last game as head coach. 

Dec. 22 – High school, high times: Highland Park High School's football team won the Texas state championship, matching what Stafford accomplished as a senior at Highland Park in 2005.

Nov. 6 – 200 TDs: Stafford's 25-yard TD pass to Marvin Jones Jr. in the first quarter of the road win over the Packers is No. 200 in Stafford's career.  Stafford hit the 200 TD passes in 117 games, making him the sixth fastest quarterback to do it and only the fourth do to it before turning 30.

Aug. 29 – contract ends drama: Before the start of the regular season, Stafford ends any speculation about his future in Detroit by signing a five-year contract that reportedly made him the NFL's highest paid player at the time.

April – family expansion: Stafford's wife Kelly gives birth to twin girls, the first children for the couple.

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