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Clay Matthews: Rick Reilly’s Swedish, Swirling-Dervish Raptor

January 28, 2011

Oh good. Another 5 pm, Friday afternoon column from Reilly. Fantastic. We’ll just get right to it. I want to watch old episodes of Newhart, and it’s getting late.


Look at Rick getting all fancy on us, with a dateline and everything. Look, guys, I actually went to Green Bay! Look, look, I’m reporting!

Before the human blender known as Clay Matthews was born, his mom and dad were on the TV game show “Family Feud,” which is as good a way as any to get to know the one player in Super Bowl XLV who has no business being there.

Great, now we get a column modeled after Family Feud…Cause a whole lot of people love Family Feud. Fantastic. This hits the “no one” demographic really well.



OK. … The Most Eyeball-Rattling Thing About Green Bay Packers Linebacker Clay Matthews Is His …

Why can’t, just for once, you say something like, the most amazing? Or the most incredible? Instead you have to sound like the biggest goober you can possibly sound like.

Time’s up.

Hey wait! You only gave me like a second. Not even. That’s not fair. Okay, fine.

You answered … Hair.

I didn’t. I didn’t have enough time to answer, jerk. But fine. Let’s go with hair.

Nooo, nooo, sorry.

Eff off, Reilly. Way to drag out your own column by asking questions that no one even cares about and then saying that the answers to the questions are wrong. Well played. I hear they’re going to start teaching this method at Syracuse.

But Matthews’ hair is medieval. It’s blond and unkempt and flows out from under his helmet and over his shoulder pads. It’s so Fabio-lous that it has its own Twitter page: ClaysHair, with over 500 followers so far.

This is some infantile crap here. Fabio-lous. Good one. A horriblly awful and forced pun used to compare Clay Matthews to Fabio, who is about as fresh a pop-culture reference as Jesus.

“I guess that’s cool,” Matthews, 24, says. “But now there are other parts of me that want a Twitter page. My biceps aren’t happy about it. We need to get working on one for them.”

This is a very hairy Super Bowl, with Matthews’ mane rival being Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu, whose mop resembles a black wooly sheep that mated with a bottle of Rogaine. Then again, Polamalu had a five-year head start.

Well whataya say, guys! There’s two guys with long hair in this Super Bowl!! But Clay Matthews is better. His hair semi-Fabio-esque, while Polamalu’s is like a sheep and cheap hair treatment. Plus, he had a head start.

This is the hard-hitting analysis I expect from a journalist paid millions of dollars.

Matthews may have grown up in the only house in America in which the dad yelled at the son, “When are you gonna grow your hair?!” His dad, Clay, played 19 years in the NFL, a lot of it long-locked. His brother, Casey, grew it long as a linebacker at Oregon and will probably keep it long as a pro.

Get this, guys! Like, the whole Matthews family has long hair!

It takes loads of work. Only his favorite LA stylist can cut it. He must wet it quarterly during the game with a squirt bottle. Guys pull it. It gets stuck on his mouthpiece when he’s popping it in. But he has no plans to get rid of it.

I may not be able to get through this whole thing. This is outstandingly stupid.

As the long-haired linebacker says, “It’s a Matthews tradition.”

You also answered … Family.

I honestly can’t remember what the original question was. My brain is being scrubbed reading this thing. Perhaps Reilly’s a Soviet operative or something. Hang, on let me find the question.

Ah, yes: what’s the most eyeball-rattling thing about Clay Matthews? Incidentally, that question makes just about no sense…and the little sense it does make, makes it a pretty subjective thing to answer.

—SNIP— (yadda yadda yadda, everyone in the Matthews family plays football, except the little runt, Brian. He’s a writer at USC or something.)

And Clay could become only the third Packers player in history to win the AP Defensive Player of the Year award when it’s announced.

Stats that mean nothing: the third Packer to win the Defensive Player of the Year Award. Oh oh, but he’d be only the third Packers player to do that! I really don’t understand why that makes it more impressive. It would be impressive to win the DPY, but not because he would be just the third Packer to win it…including Charles Woodson from last year! I fail to see how the Packer thing makes this any awesomer.

Yet “Little Clay,” as he’s called at home, gets zero love for his skills.

“When you grow up a Matthews, other Matthews are always telling you what you’re doing wrong,” he says. “The only story my grandfather tells me about his days in the NFL is how much better he was than me.”

How about his dad?

“That 278 is impressive,” he says. “I can’t imagine that. Apparently, I’m soft and he’s hard because I don’t see myself doing that. If I can last half that long, I’ll be happy.”

Would he like to be a “Claymaker” someday?

“Well, yeah, but I don’t know about naming [my son] William Clay Matthews IV,” he grumbles. “Now you’re getting way too regal.”

Poor little Cway. Always getting picked on…whatever.

You also guessed … Speed.

Ugh. We’re still doing this Family Feud thing. This is so terrible.

No, sorry, but his speed is touch-the-stovetop quick. Matthews was second only to Percy Harvin at the 2009 NFL combine in the 10-yard burst.

Okay, okay, it’s not speed. But he is fast. It’s eyeball-rattling fast…just not the most eyeball-rattling thing about him.

Seriously this is getting to be too much.


With the hair, the Cuisinart arm-flailing and the shrink-wrap jersey, quarterbacks must think they’re being attacked by a Swedish raptor. Matthews has 24 sacks in only two seasons. Imagine if his hair wasn’t stuck in his mouthpiece.

Eli Manning: “Hut one, hut two…hike! Hike!” [center snaps the ball]

Hakeem Nicks: [from Cutler’s left] I’m open!

Eli Manning: [turns left only to find Clay Matthews barreling toward him] “Holy shit! What the hell is a Swedish raptor doing here!?”


So what was the No. 1 answer?

Survey Says …



Matthews football career has seen more rejection than the fat kid at prom.

Lazy joke.

This is the scrawny, headstrong boy who came out of high school with a no-star scouting rating out of five. On a list of the top 250 linebackers in the country, his name wasn’t there.

Get this: Matthews was so little thought of as a linebacker at Agoura High School (Calif.) that his position coach didn’t start him most of his career there. And that coach was his dad.

ZOMG! Crazy. He is like Michael effing Jordan.

Matthews was so unheralded at USC that he had to walk-on.

His dad and uncle are USC All-Americans and still he got no scholarship. He spent more time on the bench than Thurgood Marshall. And every day, for four and a third seasons, he asked position coach Ken Norton Jr., “Why?”

Normally Reilly would be totally against some entitled kid living off his family’s legacy. Not this time. Nope. This time it’s a freaking international incident that Matthews didn’t get a scholarship. Do you know who is father is!?

“He told me all the time he was better than the guy ahead of him [Brian Cushing, now with the Houston Texans],” says Norton, now a coach with the Seattle Seahawks. “He’d bug me. ‘Coach, is this my time? Coach, can I play?’ But he wasn’t nearly as good back then as he is now. He was young in the mind, young in the body. He wasn’t ready.”

Matthews texts Norton weekly from the NFL, but that scab still itches.

“Not ready?” says Matthews. “For more than four years? Not ready? If he had started me after three years, OK; he can get away with that answer. But not four. That was ridiculous.”

When Norton finally put him in versus Oregon State, Matthews began chewing through blockers like baby food, and he hasn’t stopped since.

“Clawing through blockers like baby food.”? What’s that mean?

“The weird thing is, I’m glad he held me out,” Matthews says. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had started earlier. It built a fire inside me. I mean, a walk-on ending up as a first-round pick in the NFL? Who would think that?”

“America sees Clay as this fantastic player, this amazing pass-rushing All-Pro,” Norton says. “But I guarantee you he still sees himself as the walk-on who just wants to prove himself, the high school kid who finally wants to get those five stars.”

“He’s right,” says Matthews. “He’s absolutely right.”

What a waste of prime media space on ESPN. Reilly managed to write a whole column about a motivational trick, because that’s all this is. Matthews does not think of himself this way. He’s an All-Pro millionaire. This is like the Jet’s saying nobody believed in them (as Reilly derided them for, like, a week ago.)

Sorry, he still doesn’t get a prize.


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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Patrick permalink
    January 29, 2011 10:30 am

    When I saw this terrible article on ESPN, I knew this column would be hiliarious… and it was. Keep it up Tapps! Hate the mofo Reily so much.

  2. January 30, 2011 7:53 pm

    I mean, he could have at least incorporated “Survey says…”.

    Just awful.

  3. December 12, 2011 7:31 am

    Fantastic site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some pals ans additionally sharing in delicious. And of course, thanks for your sweat!


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