It's kind of hard to put too much weight into a two-year NFL player saying that someone is the best player that he's ever played with. It's not like you'll have experienced playing with too many greats of the game with one team in a two-season span.
Still, when T.J. Hockenson told George Kittle and Will Compton on Barstool Sports' "Bussin' With The Boys" that Stafford was the best player he'd ever played with, the takeaway was more than just that fact. The greater point is that in such a small time span, Stafford left such a major impact on not only Hockenson, but on everyone within the organization. And the other point is that Stafford, as of this offseason, is gone.
"He is probably the best dude, the best player I've ever been around. I mean, the dude did some crazy stuff in practice," Hockenson said. "My rookie year, my first year, I was on the outside and I ran an in route, two yards inside the end zone.
"Marvin Jones is over here... he's looking at Marvin Jones the entire time, dude, and I come around and I'm a rookie, right, so I've never seen this. He no-look passed me and I'm like, I double-caught it."
Hockenson went up to Stafford after the play to confirm the wizardry that had just occurred, to which Stafford slyly observed that he may have caught the rookie just a little bit off-guard. But it wasn't only his talent on the field. It was his leadership and his willingness to give everything he had for his teammates.
"Nothing could go wrong where it was like, alright, he's out. And you always looked over your shoulder like, oh, he's coming back. If he didn't get checked out by a trainer or something he would tell them to leave," Hockenson recalled. "He's one of those guys that... was like, y'all do this during the week, y'all do everything I ask of you, and I'm gonna go out there and do everything that I can for you guys, and everybody on our team respected that guy.
"Everybody loved him, and he will forever put a stamp on my career and in the city of Detroit."
After the trade, Hockenson texted Stafford and was obviously a little bit upset about it.
"There's not a guy in our locker room that's not rooting for that guy to get a ring," Hockenson said. "I mean, all of us love him."
Hockenson is ready to move forward, however, and is gearing up for a big third season with a new quarterback at the helm.
"I'm super excited and honestly, I've talked to Jared (Goff) a couple times and those two have the same demeanor," Hockenson said. "You know, just cool guys, like we'll give you pieces of advice but they'll never yell at you unless... you do something really wrong. I mean, Jared, I'm super excited to play with him.
"Being in this city, I'm excited to get this thing turned around, get this thing going and I think everybody in that facility and all the new coaches and everyone is super fired up to get this thing started."