Can Green Bay’s Clay Matthews be Better than his Dad?



In OLB Clay Matthews, the starting defense of the 2010 Green Bay Packers features one of the most dynamic young players in the NFL.  The second year pro out of USC is really flourishing within Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers’ 3-4 system, and the race for NFC Defensive Player of the Year figures to come down to him and Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel.

Matthews finished fourth in the NFL in sacks, second in the NFC.

“Once you finish your rookie year you kind of see what you need to improve on,” Matthews said at Cowboys Stadium during the Nike Football Media Summit last week.

“For me, I think I finished the season pretty well and I knew coming into the season that I was going to get a lot more attention from opposing offenses, so I knew I had to not only get bigger, faster, stronger, but also my mentality- that’s kind of where I been this year. Trying to be a leader and being relentless and ruthless in getting after it, kind of the same approach I’ll take going into my third year,” he continued.

By Paul M. Banks

Matthews has an unreal NFL lineage in his blood. Matthews’ father, Clay Matthews, Jr., (thereby making this Matthews the Third) played the third most games in NFL history over 19 seasons as a linebacker for the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons while earning 4 Pro Bowl selections.

Matthews’ uncle, Bruce Matthews, was an offensive lineman for 19 years with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 and is considered one of the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history, playing in a NFL-record 14 consecutive Pro Bowls.

His grandfather, Clay Matthews, Sr., played 4 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers in the 1950s. Of the four sons of Clay Matthews, Jr., he is the second to play for USC. His younger brother Casey Matthews plays linebacker for the University of Oregon Ducks. His cousin, Kevin, is a center for the Tennessee Titans.

“Obviously, he’s (Clay Matthews Jr.) my biggest inspiration and I want to do this all because of him, my grandfather, my uncle, everything the NFL has given back to us. We’re very fortunate to be in the position we are. And I want to be known as the same kind of person. I want people to remember who I was long after I’m done playing,” he said.

It’s impossible to compare Clay to his uncle Bruce- given that they play two completely different positions. Likewise with his grandfather, who played in an entirely different era. But if you are to stack him up against his dad, Matthews the Elder, you can start with the four Pro Bowl benchmark. Matthews the Younger should likely get his first trip in a couple months. And we’ll go from there.

Matthews was in Dallas as the world’s leading sportswear corporation unveiled its next generation of Nike Pro Combat uniforms and the new Air Zoom Alpha Talon cleat. Matthews was part of the mega-event, one of five NFL players modeling the equipment. It’s true that equipment technology is light years ahead of where it was when his Dad played, and one should consider that when comparing their careers.

Matthews was asked if he thought his dad would have benefited from the new innovations.

“He might have played 20 years instead of 19. But he did alright for himself. Absolutely, the technology we have nowadays, opposed to when he was playing- they’d just throw 6-7 studs along your Chuck Taylors and run out there with no ankle support or anything. It’s pretty comical,” Clay responded.

Obviously, if your game is to be the best, it’s very important to have the best gear to work with.

“Always been a Nike guy, I’ve had opportunities with other brands but everybody knows Nike and it’s something I’m comfortable with,” Matthews said.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports , a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter, Yardbarker Network, and Fox

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

He also does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports

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  1. kdffgtv;soirubv says

    i love clay matthews

  2. kdffgtv;soirubv says

    joe does to

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