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Ford wouldn't trade Stafford 'for any quarterback'

It's been 50 years in the making, but the Lions are certain they've found a passer for the ages in Matthew Stafford.

"I think Matthew is terrific," Bill Ford Jr., the Lions' vice chairman, told the team's official website this week. "I wouldn't trade Matthew for any quarterback in the league, given his age. The guy is 23 years old, he just had a 5,000-yard season, the players love him, he's a great young man off the field and yeah, I hope Matthew is the face of this franchise for many years to come."

Not to take anything away from the glorious era of Eric Hipple, but Detroit's search for a franchise quarterback has been a struggle.

When coach Jim Schwartz was hired in 2009, he preached the importance of finding Detroit's next Bobby Layne, a tribute to the Hall of Fame quarterback and perhaps a nod to a long-running strain of superstition.

Layne guided Detroit to multiple NFL titles in the 1950s, but when he was traded to the Steelers in 1958, he fumed over the deal and -- according to rumor -- stated that the Lionswould suffer for another 50 years.

Fast-forward half a century and "The Curse of Bobby Layne" turned out to be, if not a curse, a rock-solid prediction (don't even fight this, Joey Harrington Fan Club).

Drafting Stafford in 2009, just as the so-called curse expired, offered one poetic link between past and present: Stafford and Layne both attended Dallas' Highland Park High School. Ford sees other similarities.

"We've had some good quarterbacks in that period (since Layne), but given (Stafford's) age and given his talent, my hope is that Matthew can be here for many, many years, and really his stature and (the) team's stature should grow together."

It doesn't sound as though Ford has any plans to shop this guy to the Steelers, establishing another five-decade nightmare. Young Stafford is here to stay.

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