On Tuesday, the 25 semifinalists were announced for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2019 Class. The list is full of some of the biggest names but for Cleveland fans, none are bigger than former LB Clay Matthews Jr. Here are five reasons why Matthews should be elected into the Hall of Fame.
Matthews played in 278 games, recorded 1,561 tackles and had 83.5 sacks. If you look at his “Impact Plays” which takes sacks, interceptions, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries and puts those numbers together he is at 140.5 which is higher than players like Ray Lewis and Junior Seau, both Hall of Famers. Additionally, his longevity at such a premier position needs to be taken into account.
Versatility by itself is not a reason to be in the Hall of Fame, however, when you look at what Matthews did in his career it is another reason why he should be in. During his career, he played in a 4 – 3 and a 3 – 4 defense. He also played as an outside linebacker and an inside linebacker. He could have easily had over 100 sacks had he been given the opportunity like other players to just be a pass rusher, but that was not what was asked of him.
With the offensive onslaught that the NFL has seen over the last decade, it is easy to overlook a player who played in the 1970s and 1980s. There are so many who played in that era who get overlooked because we are a “what have you done for me lately” type of society, especially in sports. Matthews’ numbers are just as good as Junior Seau’s, but because Seau played more recently he gets a boost in our minds. It’s important to get players like Clay Matthews Jr. in so that the full history of the NFL is not forgotten.
The last Cleveland Browns player to be elected to the Hall of Fame was OL Gene Hickerson in 2007. Hickerson played a long time ago and many fans don’t remember him as they never watched him play. With Matthews, many fans remember him as he had a long illustrious career. It would be amazing to see the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and see all the Browns jerseys with the number 57 on them. Also, because Cleveland and Canton are so close people wouldn’t have to stay over. Hotels would have more available rooms for fans of the other Hall of Famers and the local businesses would have more people to service and make more money that weekend.
Clay Matthews Jr. is from one of the most impressive football families ever. Clay’s father Clay Sr. played for the 49ers during the 1950s. He would have had a longer career, but he went to serve his country in Korea. Clay and Bruce played for a very long time and Bruce has already been recognized as the Hall of Famer he is. Electing Clay into the Hall of Fame would allow the Matthews family to celebrate both Clay and Bruce’s accomplishments as they would be reunited in Canton forever.
Making it into the Hall of Fame is a difficult process. As a big fan of his, I hope this is the year that he makes it. I’m confident that I can say this on behalf of all Browns fans.
“Good Luck Clay! We’re pulling for you!”