"It's kind of crazy. So, Matthew's been in the league a long time. He's like, 'The difference in the locker room has changed so significantly.' They have a lot of rookies on their team, they're very young. But he's like, 'I feel like I can't connect,'" Kelly Stafford said on The Morning After With Kelly Stafford podcast. "In the old days you'd come out of practice, you'd shower, and people would be playing cards, interacting. Who knows what they're doing, but they're doing something together. Playing pingpong, they have a tournament going on. They'd at least be talking.
"But now they get out of practice, and meetings during training camp, and they go straight to their phones. No one looks up from their phones. Matthew's like, 'I don't know ... am I the dad? Do I take their phones? What do I do here?' He's like, 'I want them to see me not as a coach.'"
Stafford, 35, is entering his 15th NFL season, which will be his third with the Rams, having guided the franchise to a victory in Super Bowl LVI during his first season before being limited to just nine starts due to a shoulder injury in 2022. The Rams' win-now front office moves in 2021 have also led to the ensuing losses of several notable free agents and a significant turnover, with only veteran defensive lineman Aaron Donald and middle linebacker Ernest Jones representing the returning defensive players from the Super Bowl LVI team.
Los Angeles, which had previously been limited in recent drafts due to trading picks for veteran stars, selected 14 players in the 2023 NFL Draft, after taking an opposite approach to by trading veterans to acquire picks.
"They say 'sir' to him and s---," she said. "He's like, 'No, we're on the same level here, we're both playing in the league. Let me get to know you.' He said it's so different and so hard to get to know these guys. He had a book printed out. He had the equipment guy get a book printed of all their faces, and all their names, 'cause he's like, 'I need to know their names.' We need to talk, so I'm gonna find their names and I'm gonna say, 'Hey so-and-so, how was your weekend?' So, they know I know them and maybe we should get to know each other so there's chemistry on the field.'
"But I think nowadays, it's really hard to develop that because all these young kids, they don't care. Or it's not that they don't care, but they're so used to going straight to their phones instead of having some fun with some guys in the locker room. It's different. It's kind of sad."