Golladay Fine With Being Snubbed By Hometown Bears: "I’m With Matthew Stafford"

It's working out well for the third-year receiver.

Will Burchfield
November 07, 2019 - 8:35 am

© Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press, Detroit Free Press via Imagn Content Services, LLC

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Every NFL team spurned Kenny Golladay in the 2017 Draft, at least once. The Lions passed over him twice before pulling the trigger late in the third round. So did Golladay's hometown Bears, not that he's holding any grudges as he prepares for the third game of his career Sunday at Soldier Field. 

It was nothing personal. 

“A lot of teams passed on me," said Golladay. "It’s all right."

Then he paused and added, "I’m with Matthew Stafford." 

Oh, okay. Something you'd like to add about Mitch Trubisky? 

"Hey," Golladay said with a grin, "I ain’t say nothing."

And he doesn't really need to. The numbers speak for themselves. Golladay, who's tied for the NFL lead in touchdown catches this season, has blossomed into a star playing alongside Stafford. Trubisky, meanwhile, doesn't look like the franchise quarterback the Bears hoped they were getting when they drafted him second overall in 2017.

94 picks before Golladay. 

Across the Lions locker room on Wednesday, Stafford couldn't help but smile when told of Golladay's shoutout. Then he returned the love, in typical Stafford fashion. 

"Big, physical guy. Really good player down the field, contested-catch guy. I think he’s done a really good job of getting better every year. I’m just happy to watch him progress and the way he works, and obviously a guy that loves to go out and compete," Stafford said. "When he’s on Sunday, he’s out there trying to make every play he possibly can.”

He's made a whole bunch of them this season -- 35 catches for 640 yards and seven touchdowns. He's turned 31 of those catches into a first down, the highest percentage in the NFL. He also ranks sixth in yards per catch (18.3) and eighth in yards per game (80.0).

In the words of former teammate Golden Tate, Golladay is proving "he can be the best receiver in the league." And he's not for pausing for the plaudits. 

"I appreciate it, but it doesn’t really stop how I come into work every day and practice. Just makes me grind harder, really," Golladay said. "Other teams just respect me more, I guess, if you want to say that, but I carry myself the same way." 

Between Golladay and Marvin Jones, the Lions have one of the best receiving duos in football. They've combined for 13 touchdowns this season, a number matched only by Tampa Bay's Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. 

If his own status doesn't mean a whole lot to him, the status he shares with Jones, Golladay said, "means a lot." 

"I ain't going to lie, me and Marv, we compete with that kind of stuff. That just makes it fun. Even Danny (Amendola) gets in on it, just who’s going to make the next play. Inside the receiver room just competing with each other, it makes us all get better. Marv can take you deep, I can take you deep or we both hit you short, intermediate routes. It’s just tough for defenses.”

They'll bring the competition on Sunday to Golladay's old stomping grounds. He was a Bears fan growing up. His favorite player was Devin Hester. The first time he went to Soldier Field, as it turns out, was the first time he played there -- in 2017. He caught two passes for 52 yards. Last year he grabbed six for 78 and a touchdown. Now he'll try to outdo himself again.

“Always exciting going back home to play," he said. "I get excited every time we play in Chicago."

Golladay will have lots of family in the crowd, he said. He'll have lots of defenders in his way. And he'll have Stafford throwing him the ball, which is all he ever needed from the start.