Clay Matthews
Clay Matthews, August 2011
No. 52     Green Bay Packers
Outside linebacker
Personal information
Date of birth: (1986-05-14) May 14, 1986 (age 34)
Place of birth: Northridge, California
High School: Agoura (CA)
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) Weight: 255 lb (116 kg)
Career information
College: Southern California
NFL Draft: 2009 / Round: 1 / Pick: 26
Debuted in 2009 for the [[Green Bay Packers
Career history
Career highlights and awards
* 4× Pro Bowl (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2012
Tackles     204
Quarterback sacks     42.5
Interceptions     4
Forced fumbles     7
Defensive touchdowns     3

Clay Matthews III (born May 14, 1986) is an American football linebacker for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Southern California. He was drafted by the Packers 26th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. At the end of the 2010-11 season, ESPN ranked him as one of the best linebackers in the NFL. [1]

Early yearsEdit

Matthews was born in the Northridge district of Los Angeles to parents Clay and Leslie Matthews. He attended Agoura High School in Agoura Hills, California. Physically, Matthews was a late bloomer. His father was the team's defensive coordinator, but declined to start his son because he was physically undersized. Matthews began developing physically in his senior season, but only garnered interest from Division I FCS schools and local community colleges.[2] He has described his own recruiting status out of high school as "not applicable."[1] Like his father and uncle, Matthews opted to attend the University of Southern California with hopes of becoming a walk-on for the Trojans football team.

College careerEdit


Matthews played for the USC Trojans football team (2005-2008 seasons; 2004 redshirt) under head coach Pete Carroll and Linebacker Coach Ken Norton, Jr. Matthews entered USC as an unheralded, walk-on student athlete. During his first season, USC's 2004 National Championship season, he played only on the scout team and turned down several playing opportunities during garbage time during the fourth quarters of games in order to preserve his redshirt status and remaining seasons of NCAA eligibility. He remained a non-athletic scholarship (a "walk on"), reserve linebacker during the 2005 season, and played mainly on special teams. He was granted full athletic scholarship status at the beginning of the 2006 season. Matthews continued to play reserve linebacker in the 2006 and 2007 seasons, and made two starts in 2007 in place of injured teammate Brian Cushing.[2] He was awarded USC's Co-Special Teams Player of the Year in 2006 and 2007 and blocked two field goals in the latter season.[3]

During the off-season, Matthews committed to weight training and conditioning programs to gain size and improve his performance level and stamina. At the beginning of the 2008 season, defensive coordinator Nick Holt, Carroll and Norton decided to try using Matthews in a hybrid "Elephant" position, where Matthews would stand in the position of defensive end, but use the speed and tactics of a linebacker; the coaches had used Cushing in the position in a similar manner in 2006.[2] The experiment was successful, as Matthews recorded 4.5 sacks while playing alongside his other NFL-bound teammates Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga and Kaluka Maiava. Furthermore, Matthews continued his spectacular special teams play and was awarded USC's Co-Special Teams Player of the Year in 2008, making him the only player in USC history to be awarded three consecutive Special Teams Player of the Year awards. Matthews was a participant in the 2009 Senior Bowl and was considered a top prospect for the 2009 NFL Draft[4]

Matthews was one of twelve senior USC football players, including the four linebackers Cushing, Maiava, Matthews and Maualuga, attending the by-invitation-only 2009 NFL Scouting Combine.[5] Matthews, alongside fellow USC linebackers Maualuga and Cushing, was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated's 2009 NFL Draft Preview magazine, as all three were regarded as potential first round selections.[6]

Professional careerEdit

Pre-draft measureablesEdit

Pre-draft measureables
Ht Wt 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP Wonderlic
6 ft 3 in 240 lb 4.67 s 1.58 s 2.68 s 4.18 s 6.90 s 35½ in 10 ft 1 in 23 rep 26

Green Bay PackersEdit

File:Clay Matthews III 1.jpg

Matthews was drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft, with the 26th overall pick (Acquired from a trade with the New England Patriots), by the Green Bay Packers.[7]

Kevin Greene was hired by Dom Capers in 2009 to coach the outside linebackers. He saw a lot of himself in Clay Matthews but was afraid the Packers would not be able to draft him. Analysts were shocked that the Packers traded their 2nd and two 3rd round draft picks to the New England Patriots in order to secure Matthews as well as a 5th round selection.

He scored his first career touchdown during a Monday Night Football game on October 5, 2009 against the Minnesota Vikings; Matthews stripped the ball from running back Adrian Peterson and ran the ball back for a score.[8][9]

In week 17 against the Detroit Lions, he made 3 tackles, assisted on 2 more and sacked Daunte Culpepper twice. He was nominated for and won the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week award for his performance.[10]

In week 10 against the Dallas Cowboys, Clay had another outstanding game: recording 1 tackle, recovering 2 fumbles forced by cornerback Charles Woodson, and sacked Dallas quarterback Tony Romo to make him a nominee again for the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week. For the 2nd time in as many nominations was voted Rookie of the Week for week 10.[10]

Matthews had arguably his best game in his young career in week 13 when he was awarded the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award. Matthews had six tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in the Packers' 27-14 win over Baltimore.[11]

In the Packers December 13, 2009 contest vs the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, Matthews recorded his eighth sack of the season which put him into a three way tie with former Packers Tim Harris and Vonnie Holiday for the team record of most sacks in a rookie season (1982–Present).[12] The following week Matthews recorded two more sacks vs the Pittsburgh Steelers to claim the rookie record.[13][14]

He was added to the 2009 NFC Pro Bowl squad, replacing Bears LB Lance Briggs. He was the first Packers rookie to earn a Pro Bowl selection since receiver James Lofton in 1978.[15]

2009 (Rookie Season): Matthews recorded 51 tackles, 10.0 sacks, 7 pass deflections, a forced fumble, and 3 fumble recoveries in his rookie season of 2009. He played in all 16 games, starting at ROLB in 13 of them. He led the Packers in QB Pressures, with 45.5. He finished 3rd for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, losing to his former USC teammate Brian Cushing. He was named NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year and set the Packers record for most sacks in a season by rookie (10.0). Matthews was named to the Pro-Bowl, being the first Packer rookie to be named to the Pro-Bowl since James Lofton in 1978.

File:2012 Packers vs Giants - Clay Matthews.jpg

2010: Clay Matthews took a different approach to the game in the 2010 season. After seeing him double-teamed and constantly chipped by running backs in the NFC wild card game against the Cardinals, Dom Capers decided to move Matthews around the field. Matthews eventually ended up playing mostly at LOLB, but he would move around the field, playing also at the ROLB position and sometimes in the middle. This confused opposing offenses. After recording 60 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 4 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles, and an interception through 15 games in 2010, Matthews was named to the 2011 Pro Bowl NFC roster for the second straight year and was named AP-1st Team All-Pro. Matthews was awarded with the NFL's defensive player of the month award for September 2010 after getting 6 sacks in the first two weeks of the 2010 season. Matthews recorded a career high 55.0 QB Pressures. He was named SN NFL Defensive Player of the Year, NFC Defensive Player of the Year, and won the Butkus Award. He finished a close second (17 votes to 15) to Troy Polamalu in the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year voting, notable in that both led their defenses to Super Bowl XLV. On November 7, 2010, in a Sunday Night Football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Cowboys quarterback Jon Kitna threw a pass, which was batted by Packers linebacker A. J. Hawk into the hands of Matthews. Matthews then returned the interception 62 yards for a touchdown. This was his first career interception, and his second career touchdown.

2010 Playoffs: Matthews set the Packer record for most sacks in a postseason (3.5). In the Super Bowl won by the Packers over the Pittsburgh Steelers, he had 3 tackles, a pass deflection, and a game changing forced fumble. On the first play of the 4th quarter with the Steelers driving to take the lead with the score 21-17 in favor of Green Bay and the ball on the Packer 33 yard line, he tackled Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, who fumbled the ball, recovered by Desmond Bishop. The Packers never lost the lead, winning their 4th Super Bowl title and first since Super Bowl XXXI (1996 season), 31-25 .

2011: Matthews finished the 2011 season with 50 tackles, and a career low 6.0 sacks despite playing 15 of the 16 games. He led the Packers in QB Pressures for the 3rd straight year, with 53.5. Although his numbers were down from the previous season, he improved in other aspects of his game. He had a career high 3 interceptions, 9 pass deflections, and 3 forced fumbles. He also recorded his 3rd career defensive touchdown by picking off Eli Manning for a pick-six. Matthews played almost exclusively from the LOLB position, not moving around the field like he did the previous season due to the struggling defense. Matthews didn't play a single snap at ROLB until week 11 and finished the entire season with only 7 rushes from the ROLB spot. Matthews had his best overall season despite the low numbers. The Packers struggled to find pass pressure from the side opposite of Matthews and the loss of DE Cullen Jenkins and S Nick Collins placed the Packers last in total defense. His linebacker coach Kevin Greene stated that he has never seen a pass rusher get doubled teamed as much as Clay has this season. The Defensive Line also struggled, finishing the season with 6 total sacks after recording 18 the year before. Matthews was named to his 3rd straight pro bowl as a starter. Prior to the 2011 season, Matthews was named the 2nd best pass rusher (2nd only to DeMarcus Ware) and the 4th best linebacker in the league by ESPN (behind Patrick Willis, James Harrison, and DeMarcus Ware).

Heading into the 2012 season, the defense needed to improve. Finishing with the 32nd ranked defense in the NFL was described by Matthews as "unacceptable." The Packers drafted 6 straight defensive players in the draft, including Matthews future running mate Nick Perry out of USC. Because of Perry's bigger size (10 pounds heavier than Clay) and not being accustomed to playing pass coverage was put at the LOLB position, moving Clay Matthews back to the ROLB position he played at in his rookie year. The Packers hope that by drafting Perry, Michigan State DE Jerel Worthy, and Iowa DT Mike Daniel, opposing teams will no longer be able to double-team Matthews, allowing pressure to open up on all sides.

2012: Prior to the 2012 NFL season, Sporting News listed Matthews as the 2nd best outside linebacker in the league, 2nd only to DeMarcus Ware. Matthews started out the 2012 season with a bang. He recorded 3 tackles and 2.5 sacks against San Francisco in 30-22 loss and then posted a career high 3.5 sacks against the Bears on Thursday night. Matthews is one of only 6 players in NFL history to record 6 sacks or more in the first two games of the season, and is the only player to do it twice. Entering week 9 against the Cardinals, Matthews was second in the league in sacks with 9.0, but slowed down recently due to LOLB Nick Perry injuring his knee in week six. Matthews had to leave the game in the second half after his left hamstring started to tighten up. He was eventually ruled out for weeks 11-13. After missing 4 games with a hamstring injury, Matthews recorded 6 tackles, 2 sacks, and a pass deflection in a 21-13 victory of the Bears. This victory crowned the Packers as NFC North champions for the second year in a row. Matthews totaled 3 tackles and a sack in a 37-34 season ending loss to the Vikings. Matthews finished the season with 43 tackles, 13.0 sacks (5th in the league), 2 passes defended, and a forced fumble. Matthews was selected to his fourth straight Pro Bowl, but dropped out due to injury and was also named AP - Second Team All-Pro for the season.

Regular season statisticsEdit

File:2012 Packers vs Giants - Clay Matthews 2.jpg
Year 2013 team G TTkl Solo Ast Sacks QB Pressures Int Yards Avg Lg TD Pass Def FF F0


2012 Green Bay Packers 12 43 32 11 13.0 48.0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 0
2011 Green Bay Packers 15 50 37 13 6.0 53.5 3 47 15.7 38T 1 9 3 0 1
2010 Green Bay Packers 15 60 54 6 13.5 55. 1 62 62 62 1 4 2 0 1
2009 Green Bay Packers 16 51 37 14 10.0 45.5 0 0 0 0 0 7 1 3 0 1 Total 46 204 160 44 42.5 154.0 4 109 27.2 62 2 22 7 3 2


Clay Matthews III is a 3rd generation football player. Matthews' father, Clay Jr., played 19 seasons and 278 games as a linebacker for the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons while earning 4 Pro Bowl selections. Matthews' uncle, Bruce Matthews, also played 19 seasons in the NFL, playing 296 games an offensive lineman for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise after being drafted out of USC in 1983, Bruce was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 and considered one of the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history, playing in an NFL-record 14 consecutive Pro Bowls. Both brothers were All-Americans. His grandfather, Clay Sr., played 4 seasons in the NFL for 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 Philadelphia Eagles, following a prosperous collegiate run with the University of Oregon Ducks. He also has cousins involved in football: Kevin Matthews is a center for the Tennessee Titans, Jake Matthews is an offensive tackle for Texas A&M, and Mike Matthews is an offensive lineman committed to play football for Texas A&M for the class of 2016. Every Friday during the football season Clay talks football on Wisconsin's Afternoon News with John Mercure on Newsradio 620 WTMJ.

In 2012 Matthews agreed to model and test a Depend adult incontinence brief under his uniform to benefit the Jimmy V Foundation charity.[16]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Power Rankings: Top 10 NFL linebackers". November 2, 2008. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Gary Klein, USC’s Clay Matthews had to walk on before he could run, Los Angeles Times, September 23, 2008. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
  3. Erik McKinney, Molding A Spot for Clay,, May 4, 2008. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
  4. Albert Breer, USC just might be the true location of Linebacker U, Sporting News, January 21, 2009. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
  5. Ted Miller, Pac-10 NFL combine invitees,, February 2, 2009. Retrieved February 2, 2009.
  6. Gary Klein, USC's Maualuga, Kushing and Matthews grace Sports Illustrated cover,, April 21, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2009.
  7. [1][dead link]
  8. "NFL Game Center: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings - 2009 Week 4". Retrieved 2010-12-22.
  9. Borzi, Pat (October 6, 2009). "Finally Facing the Packers, Favre Delivers a Gem". New York Times.
  10. 10.0 10.1 [2][dead link]
  11. [3][dead link]
  12. [4][dead link]
  13. [5][dead link]
  14. [6][dead link]
  15. [7][dead link]
  16. Sorgi, Jay (March 29, 2012). "Packers LB Matthews to wear a Depend undergarment in ad". WTMJ-620. Retrieved 14 May 2012.

External linksEdit