Clay Matthews Jr.

This article is about Clay Matthews Jr., who played from 1978 until 1996. For his son, who plays for the Green Bay Packers, see Clay Matthews III.
Clay Matthews Jr.

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Matthews during the 1984 NFL season.
No. 57
Position: Linebacker
Personal information
Date of birth: (1956-03-15) March 15, 1956
Place of birth: Palo Alto, California
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight: 245 lb (111 kg)
Career information
High school: Arcadia (CA)
College: Southern California
NFL Draft: 1978 / Round: 1 / Pick: 12
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Tackles: 1,561
Sacks: 69.5
Interceptions: 16
Touchdowns: 1
Player stats at

William Clay Matthews Jr. (born March 15, 1956) is a former American football linebacker who played for the Cleveland Browns and the Atlanta Falcons. He was the first round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns and played in 278 games over 19 NFL seasons, the 17th most appearances in league history.[1] Matthews had 1,561 tackles in his career, the third most in NFL history, and is trailed most closely by Junior Seau with 1,522 tackles.[2]

He is the father of Clay Matthews III, an All-Pro linebacker for the Green Bay Packers, and brother of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews.

NFL career

Matthews was drafted by the Browns out of the University of Southern California with the 12th pick in the first round of the 1978 NFL Draft. Clay was a four-time Pro Bowler for Cleveland. He is also the oldest player to record a sack at 40 years, 282 days. Matthews was one of the first players to negotiate a large contract going into the NFL.

Matthews was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week twice in his career with the Cleveland Browns (Week 12, 1984 and Week 9, 1991). Clay and his son, Clay Matthews III, are the only father-son tandem to be named defensive player of the week in the NFL.[3]

Life after pro football

Matthews resides in Agoura Hills, California. He serves as defensive coordinator at Oaks Christian High School, a coed private school in Westlake Village, California that his son Casey attended. He was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005, along with his brother Bruce. After his retirement, Clay Matthews opened a Pontiac Dealership in the Cleveland suburb of Euclid in 1992; Matthews's dealership has since closed.

Clay and his brother Bruce competed with members of their family on the popular TV game show Family Feud, with Richard Dawson. The Matthews Family won the game, and Clay was one of the two family members to play the final round. One of five questions he was asked in the final round was "What is the ideal age for a U.S. President?". He answered "32". The constitutional requisite age to become President is 35. Clay ended up scoring 41 points total, and the Matthews family did not win the $10,000 grand prize.

In 2014, he was named Director of Football Operations at Carter (Tenn.) HS, where he once served as an assistant coach.[4]


Clay Matthews' brother Bruce Matthews, who also played at USC, and father Clay Matthews Sr. were also NFL players. Two of his sons joined the football team at USC, while another joined the football team at the University of Oregon: Kyle Matthews was a safety at USC (2000–03) and Clay Matthews III played linebacker and defensive end at USC (2004–2008). After graduation, Clay Matthews III was drafted by the Green Bay Packers. Casey Matthews played linebacker at the University of Oregon (2007–2011), and was selected in Round 4 of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.[5]

The Matthews football dynasty family tree:


  1. NFL Career Games Leaders
  2. LB Clay Matthews Named NFC Defensive Player Of The Week,, September 22, 2010, Accessed December 9, 2012.
  4. Gary Klein, Trojans get ducks in a row up front, Los Angeles Times, October 27, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.
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