Time For Detroit To Shelve Injured Stafford

Detroit's aimless handling of quarterback Matthew Stafford's injury is perplexing.

Jim Schwartz is busy figuring out which quarterback, Shaun Hill or Drew Stanton, should start Sunday's game against Chicago.

His biggest concern should be Matthew Stafford.

Maybe I'm the one missing the obvious, but I'm under the growing suspicion that the honor belongs to those allowing last year's top pick to even step foot onto Sandoval practice field.

It's time to shelve Stafford and stop this charade.

The Lions have again been covert with the treatment of Stafford's problematic shoulder, the military-grade right arm that delivers impossible darts -- along with hope to the desperate but loyal following of Lions fans. But they don't need to be. If common sense is of any value to a franchise that was devoid of it for the past decade, Stafford should be placed on injured reserve, ending his season and allowing rehabilitation to begin. And the disaster that is 2010 would make way for next year.

In terms of priority, this weekend's tilt comes in a distant second.

During Tuesday's media briefing, Schwartz said the team's training staff continues to evaluate Stafford "day-by-day," the modus operandi since he reinjured the shoulder in a week nine loss to the Jets. It's eerily similar to way this staff handled (botched) Stafford's initial injury suffered against Chicago in the season opener.

Stafford suffered his second shoulder injury against New York (Getty Images).

He was able to return for about six quarters before doing even more damage to a $41.7 million asset, begetting calls of Matthew "Glassford" from impatient and frustrated fans.

Someone needs to call Sam Bradford's people

The St. Louis rookie sensation opted for surgery after suffering an identical injury to Stafford's during his junior campaign at Oklahoma. He underwent months of rehabilitation, cemented himself as the No. 1 overall pick and has turned in one of the more impressive rookie campaigns in league history.

He did it right.

That isn't to insinuate that Stafford should undergo the knife, which he might, but to argue against the Bradford approach is ignorant.

It was insulting to suggest that Stafford's second injury to the same shoulder wasn't related to the first, as the team led everyone to believe.

Whether the latest separation itself is an aggravation of the first is largely irrelevant; it was painfully obvious to Stafford, especially, and everyone else that the second-year quarterback wasn't ready to return earlier in the season.

His shoulder wasn't ready.

But now the Lions are playing with fire. Maybe even a nuclear bomb.

The investment in Stafford goes beyond financial. His arm represents the future of the franchise, the top-flight quarterback that the team has lacked since Bobby Layne. That's over 50 years. Stafford is Detroit's Atlantis, but it seems the team would rather risk the find than place it on ice and await a more appropriate unveiling.

Only in Detroit.

Stafford continues to practice daily in Allen Park, testing the arm, Schwartz and staff hoping against hope that maybe, just maybe, the kid can give them another win or two.

Even if it means jeopardizing Stafford's career and elongating Detroit football's stay in sports hell.

After an effervescent rookie campaign, Stafford's cameo in 2010 has been a scene stealer. He had tossed six touchdowns, one interception and the team has either won contests in which he's played or they were winning before his departure. He has proven himself capable of delivering the plays that determine a game, something each of his predecessors lacked. He's an elite talent. Like Barry Sanders before him, Stafford's that rare specimen that occasionally surfaces in the National Football League, and he is a Detroit Lion.

Or as long as his health will last, something that serves as Stafford's only question mark. Something that the Lions are now, nonsensically, gambling with.

"It depends on how he feels and all of those things," Schwartz said. "We did a very similar thing the first time when he came back."

No, they did the same thing, and we've all witnessed the result.

Detroit loses nothing by shelving Stafford now, and potentially everything should they choose otherwise.

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