© Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

For A Long Time, Stafford Thought He Would Play Pro Baseball

There's no doubt he made the right call choosing football.

August 09, 2018 - 5:20 pm

You know the story. Matthew Stafford grew up with Clayton Kershaw. They played on the same sports teams. They went to high school together. Stafford was Kershaw's catcher in baseball, Kershaw was Stafford's center in football. 

Now they're two of the highest-paid athletes in the world

There's no doubt Stafford made the right call choosing football, with over $160 million in the bank through nine years in the NFL and whole lot more money on the way, but for a while he thought seriously about pursuing baseball. 

"Up until I started my sophomore year of high school, I probably would have told you I was gonna play bro baseball. I really thought that’s what I was best at," Stafford told the Peter King Podcast. "It’s kind of hard to gauge yourself on how good you are compared to the rest of the country in football. You just play the local teams. I was on travel baseball teams since I was nine years old, so I’m playing all around the country, going, 'Okay, I’m pretty decent at what I’m doing.' It was easier to gauge, and I go, 'Yeah, I might have a shot to do this.' Then football happened."

Stafford attended Highland Park High School in Dallas, Texas. 

"My sophomore year I started playing some varsity football and started getting some college offers, and I was like, 'Oh, well maybe I’m good at this.' And I kind of liked playing in front of 15,000 fans in high school instead of 400 of my parents and the other team’s parents, so it made that decision a little bit easier," Stafford said with a laugh. "But I loved baseball. It was probably my first love in sports, just because you can play it a younger age at a higher level. I still watch it a bunch and pull for my guys." 

That includes Kershaw, who's also banked more than $160 million over 11 MLB seasons. Unlike Stafford, Kershaw was always destined for success in his original sport. 

"He was a darn good center, really, but then he leaned out and started getting taller. I played so much baseball with him, and he was really a great first baseman too. He still handles the bat well. You see him in the majors, I think he won a game by himself basically the other day. Had a couple RBIs, reached base four times, he walked three times, had a two-run single and then pitched great. I'm going, 'That's the guy I know. Just dominating the whole game.' He was that way from the first time I ever played baseball with him, so I knew baseball was gonna be pretty good for him," said Stafford. 

A common theme between their two professional careers is a lack of success on the big stage. Kershaw, though having pitched in the playoffs seven different years, has yet to win the World Series. And Stafford, of course, has yet to win a playoff game. 

It's a blemish on the resume Stafford would obviously like to erase. 

"To this point, it’s tough," he said. "That’s what you play for, the opportunity in the postseason. There’s nothing like playoff football in the NFL. Gotten to taste it three times and it’s been a whole bunch of fun. Wish we would have come out on top all three times, but that wasn’t the case. But that’s what you play for. That’s what we do all this for out here, this is the grind in August and early September for those chances to go play in the postseason. It’s a long process to get there, it’s a grind every year, and I love very minute of it. I just can’t wait to make it back and hopefully make a long run."