Everyone feel really bad for Kelly Stafford living under a 'dictatorship' in COVID-ridden Michigan

Kelly and Matthew Stafford
Kelly and Matthew Stafford
Image: (AP)

Last week, much of America learned how truly violent and depraved the plot was to kidnap and — let’s be real, murder — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. If you didn’t catch the highlights, here are some of the allegations from Michigan’s criminal complaint against the white men involved:


If plotting to kidnap state officials and execute them on TV isn’t enough for you, we also have what went down in Michigan last night, wherein two Wayne County canvassers tried refusing to certify the election results, then gave in after a lot of pressure — on social media and in person — and now want a do-over after talking to the President of the United States, who is attempting a soft coup.

Add to this that Michigan has the fifth-most COVID cases in the nation and, well, Michigan has a lot on its plate is what I’m saying.

So you would think that Kelly Stafford, wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, would sense that Michigan doesn’t really need an NFC North Karen to start fanning the flames with ridiculous claims about living in a dictatorship. Yet, dear reader, she did not sense that.

So I’m going to be very blunt: I’m so over it. I’m over living in a dictatorship that we call Michigan. I understand there’s a pandemic, and I understand it’s very scary. I’m scared of it too. If you are at risk, do not leave your house until there’s a vaccine. ...

“But shutting down all these small businesses — things that people have worked their life for — shutting them down again is not the answer, because they will not make it. So once we are able to leave our house, once this dictatorship decides to let us have some freedom, there will be nothing left. This is my opinion. I feel for these small businesses. It’s not that I don’t feel for people that have COVID, or the hospitals. I do. But this is my opinion. I do not feel like — I do not like living in a place where they tell me what I can and cannot do. I live once. Again, this is my opinion. You have yours, everyone has their own, and we chalk it up to that.”

If Stafford considers living in a place where “they can tell you what you can and can’t do” to be a dictatorship (!), there’s literally nowhere on the planet she could live happily, save her own private island. For example, the government tells us we can’t drink-and-drive, we can’t steal money from other people, we can’t walk up to someone and punch them in the face.


Should probably mention that it’s been reported that Stafford made this video while sitting outside a Target.

Oh, and you know what else you can’t do?

Contribute to the fucking escalation of a worldwide pandemic just because you don’t want anyone telling you what you can and can’t do.


Of course, there are so many things wrong with Stafford’s post that are emblematic of what’s wrong with America. She doesn’t seem to consider that the people who want to be out there are making things more dangerous for those who need to be. Or that people living under an actual dictatorship would probably consider the minor restrictions currently in effect in Michigan to be laughable restraints on freedom. Let’s take a moment to reflect on restrictions Stafford considered to be such infringements of her freedom that she compared them to living in a dictatorship.

Currently, Michigan’s COVID ‘pause’, expected to last three weeks, closes indoor dining, shuts down in-person high school and college classes, and bans attendance at sports events.


Definitely the stuff Soviet gulag nightmares are made of.

So while I get that Kelly wants to go to a Lions game, sit in a suite, and watch her husband flail around and get beat by whatever mediocre team the Lions are playing this week, she’s just going to have to suck it up like all the rest of us. Millions of Americans are living without seeing family members for significant periods of time and worse, living with sick family members. Being able to stay home and safe in the middle of global pandemic is a privilege. I’d love to know how many people the Staffords rely on to allow them to feel like they are living in a dictatorship. Grocery delivery? Child care? Cleaning service? Car service? Gardeners? All people who are out there so the rest of us can stay inside.


In fact, Stafford’s Instagram account is full of her doing all kinds of things the rest of us haven’t been able to do for months: Jumping at a trampoline park at the end of October, attending a Lions game in Atlanta on October 26, getting Botox (and encouraging other women to see her doctor) just yesterday.

So it seems pretty clear that no one has been telling Kelly what to do for quite a while.


Stafford has, in the last couple of hours, removed her Instagram post and posted again, writing, “I should never have used the word ‘dictatorship.’ I got caught up in the heat of the moment, that is my fault,” before going on to accuse her detractors of getting things “twisted.” And, hey, we all say things on social media that we regret. But calling a state a “dictatorship” is about so much more than just an ugly word. It’s using the language of the radical right, the same people that plotted to kidnap Whitmer, and trying to normalize it. It’s a dead giveaway about who exactly Kelly Stafford listens to and sides with. The fact that it didn’t occur to her that comparing Michigan to East Berlin in the 1970s was a bad idea until the social media backlash hit speaks volumes. And no matter how much Stafford tries to dress her feelings as concern for small businesses, it just doesn’t pass the smell test, particularly when the most marginalized segments of the population are the ones getting the sickest.

As frustrated as Stafford is with these minimal restrictions to her life, I can guarantee you that the rest of us are MORE frustrated with people like Stafford, who seem unable to tolerate even the smallest sacrifices for the good of others. Attempting to disguise not giving a shit about anyone but yourself as a difference of opinion is maybe the best part of this whole thing. Not caring what happens to other people because you want to go to the bar is definitely an opinion, if not a worldview.


Don’t worry, Kelly. Being married to an NFL quarterback, I’m sure you’ll be right at the front of the line to get your vaccination, and then you can go back to living in a state of mind where no one can tell you what to do.

Co-host of The Ladies Room podcast. Author of "Sidelined: Sports, Culture, and Being a Woman in America." Former law-talking chick.