As he prepares for his 11th NFL season and his fourth with the Arizona Cardinals, former Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton can appreciate the longevity that he’s been able to have had in the sport of football. Stanton spoke recently to Spartan Nation about his career.
From playing the game growing up, to his time under center for the Spartans, to his NFL career where he’s played for the Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals, Stanton still has the same passion for football.
“It’s crazy to think that,” Stanton said of entering his 11th season in the NFL. “I think it’s one of those things, at times, it just feels like its standing still and other times it can feel like it’s flying by. I’m fortunate to be able to do this and do something that I love and devote my time and attention to and still have the ability to play this game, it’s fantastic.”
After spending five years in East Lansing, three of which he was the starting quarterback for the Spartans, Stanton got his chance at playing in the NFL after being drafted in the second round by the Lions.
But Stanton said that his first years in the NFL were humbling for him as he would move on from Detroit after four years, but that experience only motivated him more.
“I think it did change me, I think it humbled me, especially early on in my career,” he said. “I went in as a second round pick and thought that I was going to be given an opportunity to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, which is any guy’s dream and it was a dream I was hoping would become a reality. Two years later they drafted Matthew Stafford and I needed to take a realistic look in the mirror and it humbled me in that sense that if I want to survive in this league, I need to do everything I can and it made me appreciate each and every year that I was able to survive.”
After a one-year stop in Indianapolis, Stanton moved on to Arizona where he has served as the backup quarterback for the Cardinals over the past three seasons and started in eight games back in 2014.
One thing that has stood out to Stanton during his time with the Cardinals has been his relationship with head coach Bruce Arians, who is entering his fifth season in charge in Arizona.
“I think he’s just real,” he said. “When you get to this level, some people have an agenda, they’ve got a plan and you don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors. There’s a lot of meetings, there’s a lot of he said she said, there’s a lot of sides taken and from day one when I met him, he’s kind of got that personality that right, wrong or indifferent, he’s going to tell you how he feels about you and about everything and you better have thick skin and be able to handle it, but at least you know where you stand with him, which there is a lot to be said for that because in this business, you don’t always get that kind of treatment.”
This season will be Stanton’s 11th in the NFL and it will also be the fifth time where he has found himself in a contract season as he will become a free agent in 2018, but remains focused on the 2017 season where he is again expected to serve as the backup to Carson Palmer for the Cardinals.
As his career has gone on, Stanton said that he’s thankful for what he’s been able to achieve over the years and added that he’s appreciative to those who helped him get to where he is.
“I think you definitely appreciate each year that you get done and you see what you were able to accomplish,” he said. “During the season, you’re so focused on trying to accomplish what lies ahead for that week and you kind of have tunnel vision. But once you get away and decompress and be very thankful for how long I’ve been able to count my blessings to be able to finish a season and look forward to the next season. That’s really where I’m at now, taking it one year at a time, looking at every situation. Early on in your career, you’re young and you’re dumb and you don’t realize all of these things and how truly fortunate you are to keep piling these years up – you look back and you feel fortunate – a lot of people helped get me to the position that I’m in and I’d be foolish to think that I did it all by myself.”
Having been a part of the NFL for more than a decade now, Stanton admits that he had hoped his professional career would have turned out to be different, but the way he wants to be looked at by current teammates and remembered by former teammates has always remained the same.
“The only thing that’s ever really mattered to me is my teammates,” he said. “That’s one thing that I’ve always taken pride in, dating back to when I first started playing, is playing for the guy next to me and I always wanted that guy to play as hard as he could for me and reciprocate that. There’s something special about that feeling when it’s mutual and you accomplish a goal as a team. My career hasn’t been the way I would have hoped, but at the same time, the people and the relationships that I’ve formed over the years. If my name is mentioned as just a great teammate, then I know I will have accomplished everything that I would have wanted to and what I set out for initially in the NFL.”
While Stanton now finds himself in Arizona continuing his career, he still finds time to give back in the State of Michigan and will be back in Lansing later this month for his High 5ive Foundation’s Celebrity Golf Outing and Charity Auction on June 16th at Hawk Hollow Golf Course.
Learn more about Stanton’s High 5ive Foundation and his Celebrity Golf Outing and Charity Auction by visiting high5ivefoundation.org.
Stay tuned to Spartan Nation for all of the latest news on Stanton and the High 5ive Foundation!