Can Packers' Clay Matthews Surpass the NFL Career of his Father?


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 is leading the NFC in sacks, but is 1.5 behind Miami's Cameron Wake for the NFL lead.

"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.

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

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

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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