A look back at the extraordinary career of Clay Matthews III

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Every now and again an athlete comes along that not only shines from week to week, day to day, but perfectly embodies what it means to be a member and even leader of a sports team. Enter Clay Matthews III.

Some would say that during his time with the Green Bay Packers and the NFL, Clay Matthews III embodied that essence big time, but furthermore embodied what it meant to be a pro football player in its purest form.

After quite the astounding career with the Packers, Clay Matthews retired officially in 2022 after a single season with the Rams and some time as a free agent, and although he didn’t end his career with the team he wished he would have ended it with, his time with the Packers and his achievements with the team will never be forgotten.

Hence the purpose of today’s piece. Join us as we look back on the extraordinary career of Green Bay Packer, “The Claymaker,” Clay Matthews III.

Of course there’s no way that I can encompass all of the accomplished he achieved in a mere article. These achievements belong in a book if you ask me, but I’ll do my best to hit the major points of his impressive career and especially his run with the Packers.

The son of Clay Matthews Jr., who is no stranger to football fans (Jr., Clay’s father, had impressive runs with the Cleveland Browns and the Atlanta Falcons in his day and is a Browns legend and has a slew of other accolades earned on the gridiron).

His son followed in the great athlete’s footsteps and surely did not disappoint. The term “the apple did not at all fall very far from the tree” certainly comes to mind here.

Incidentally, Clay Matthews Sr. (Clay III’s grandfather), was also a football star in the NFL and had a great run with the San Francisco 49ers.

His uncle Bruce Matthews is also an NFLer, and Matthews III’s own brother, Casey, is also a football player (played with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL).

A logical comparison here would be to say that what the Hart family is to professional wrestling, the Matthews family is to pro football.

In high school Matthews played for the Chargers of Agoura High in California. According to Wikipedia, he was a “late bloomer,” so he didn’t get any good exposure until his senior year. His dad was actually the defensive coordinator of the team and he held him back purposefully because of that reason apparently.

Well, give a tiny sapling time to grow and it’ll become the strongest of oaks, because Matthews would bloom into a 6-foot-3 frame and the attention his musculature got during his career is proof that he hit the iron and he hit it quite hard.

It’s hard to forget his typical double biceps pose on the gridiron after one of his powerful tackles.

Regardless of his slow start, he would end up playing for the Trojans at the University of Southern California, and it was as he grew and played his caliber of football that he garnered for himself the right type of attention from those that mattered.

All that hard work in the gym and on the gridiron would result in Matthews III garnering for himself a 26th overall selection in the NFL Draft of 2009, and with the Green Bay Packers, of course.

Off to the races he was, because quite the career he would have with the Packers and quite the stats. He was with the Packers from 2009 until 2018. In that time he would rack in a total of 519 total tackles, 91.5 sacks and 17 forced fumbles.

A first-team All-Pro in 2010, a second-team All-Pro in 2012, a six-time Pro-Bowler, and a Super Bowl champion in 2010. That’s the pinnacle right there.

Matthews talked about his last run in the NFL with LA, but would have loved to have finished his NFL career where it had started and essentially where he belonged as far as many Packers fans were and are concerned.

"“I would have loved to finish my career there…Based on my discussions after that 2018 season, I thought we were going to continue moving forward. But yeah the manner in which it did kinda caught me by surprise. Ultimately it is what it is. I had fun in my year in L.A.,” said Matthews, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky."

Retirement has suited him well, though. Matthews is married and has three children with his wife and states that life now for him is about one thing pretty much.

And there you have it folks…a short but sweet look back on quite the run in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers for an exceptional athlete and NFL linebacker.

As always, as we cheer the current roster on.

But as we cheer them on, it’s always good to look back at the foundations—the very strong foundations—that built the team we know and love. Hope that in a tiny way we were able to properly pay homage to the titan, Clay Matthews III.