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Stafford talks UGA donation, preparing for regular season

Matthew Stafford has a lot of options and responsibilities in his busy life on and off the football field, and he finds ways to add more without comprising his duties as the Detroit Lions' franchise quarterback.

Matthew and his wife, Kelly, have added to their philanthropic endeavors by pledging a gift of $1.5 million to the University of Georgia.

The gift, announced Friday, benefits a number of areas, with a primary focus on the Athletic Association's new social justice program.

It is a substantial donation, and a reflection of Matthew and Kelly's beliefs.

Matthew's commitment to his team also was apparent in his comments at Friday's press conference about the work he did with teammates in the offseason to prepare for a season that had no offseason program.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lions were spread out throughout the country and not together at their Allen Park headquarters.

In addition to conducting a virtual offseason program, they had many discussions via Zoom about social and racial issues They came in the wake of demonstrations after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

Lions center Frank Ragnow, a native of suburban Minneapolis, called the experiences relayed by black teammates "heartbreaking" and "eye opening."

"This offseason for us as a football team was a special one," Stafford said Friday. "It was different. Obviously, we were on those Zoom calls. There were some awesome conversations that happened. A lot of listening. A lot of learning and a lot of intense stuff.

"That was an awesome thing to be a part of. It kind of got the wheels turning. Give a lot of credit to my wife (Kelly). She was instrumental in getting everything together as well."

Matthew and Kelly gave a lot of thought to what would be a good way to make an impact. Both are University of Georgia alums.

"Just trying to figure out what was the best way to make an impact is," Matthew said. "We've done some work in the Detroit area. We wanted to make an impact where we spent our college years."

Stafford did not cut back on the offseason workouts he has done for many years.

Stafford worked out with teammates everywhere from California to his home in suburban Atlanta to a high school field in Metro Detroit. Veterans and rookies alike took part in the workouts.

With training camp practices limited to 90 minutes, Stafford wanted to start the learning process early to maximize practice time when camp opened.

View photos from practice during Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage on Aug. 21, 2020.

"I tried to do what I thought was best to help our guys get ready," Stafford said. "It was a unique situation for everybody, myself included, trying to figure out a balance of, 'Hey, what's right? Let's not take too much risk here.'

"Our team was great in supporting and helping make sure guys were safe as much as they possibly could. I connected with what seemed like guys all around the country. That was awesome. It's one of those deals. You go out there and throw a bunch of balls and get to know each other and try to get on the same page."

The workouts gave the Lions an edge in camp, but the payoff for Stafford is in the regular season games – starting at home with the Bears on Sept. 13.

"If we play bad on offense, it means nothing," Stafford said. "We've got to go out there and produce on Sunday. We've got to make those things count. We've got to make those reps count.

"I certainly tried to get a jump start any way I could."

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