Matthews prepares for family feud at Lambeau

Professional football is a familiar lifestyle to Jake Matthews, who was raised by his mother, Carrie, and his father, Bruce, a Class of 2007 NFL Hall of Famer. While the Manning family has the quarterback position covered with father, Archie, and sons Peyton and Eli, the Matthews’ rich football pedigree occupies both sides of the football and has now sent seven family members to the pros. Bruce’s Hall of Fame career earned him 14 Pro Bowl appearances at guard and helped Jake get a head start at an early age.

“I’ve learned a lot from my family’s football pedigree,” said Matthews. “From day one, I kind of had a second offensive line coach in my father. Not only a great football player, but a Hall of Famer. Always being able to come home and talk to him and get his opinion was something I always took advantage of because, in my opinion, he’s the greatest offensive lineman ever to play the game. I’ll be happy to do half the things he’s done because he was such a great player. He’s someone I really look up to and I’m real proud to call him my dad.”

Bruce grew up in a similar childhood situation as Jake by learning the game from his father, Clay Matthews Sr., who was a offensive tackle at Georgia Tech and with the San Francisco 49ers. Bruce’s brother and Jake’s uncle, Clay Matthews Jr. played on the defensive side of the football and was the No. 12 pick in the 1978 draft. Clay Jr. played linebacker in the NFL for 19 seasons with stays in Cleveland and Atlanta while earning four trips to the Pro Bowl and tallying career totals of 1,561 tackles and 69.5 sacks.

Jake’s cousin is none other than Clay Matthews III, Green Bay’s long-haired, muscle-flexing linebacker. Matthews III has four Pro Bowl trips in his five NFL seasons and was named NFC Defensive player of the Year in 2010 during Green Bay’s Super Bowl season. The younger brother of Matthews III is Casey Matthews, who plays linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles. An exciting wrinkle in the 2014 season will be the Matthews matchup with the two cousins on opposite sides of the football. The Falcons play at Green Bay on Dec. 8 and Jake will face his cousin, who had 50 sacks and 186 total tackles in his first five seasons on the Packers’ defense.

“I’m fired up,” said Jake about what it would be like to face his cousin this season. “I talked to my dad; some of his greatest memories was him going against his brothers. I finally get an opportunity to play against my cousin [Clay Matthews III]. He’s an All-Pro and a stud. It’s going to be a huge challenge, but I’m looking forward to it. I know that’s the reason why Atlanta picked me. They think I’m a guy that can go in and take care of the quarterback, take care of Matt Ryan, and I’m going to go in and prove that I can.”


With the amount of success carried with the Matthews name, Jake might have the highest expectations of all as he enters the 2014 season. He’s the earliest pick out of the seven Matthews that have made their way to the NFL. He’s also just the second offensive lineman drafted by the Falcons in the first round in the past 22 years. Not to mention the fact that he’s had NFL potential and a target on his back since his prep days as an All-American lineman at Elkins High School in Missouri City, Texas. In the midst of all the pressure, Matthews has navigated his way to the pros with maturity and a range of skills that have been mature beyond his years.

“I’m a strong believer that the SEC is the best conference in college football and going against all those top players week in and week out is something that really developed my game, especially that junior and senior year,” admitted Matthews. “I really felt like I developed the most and became the player I am today. I think it is going to give me a little more experience going into the next level, but I can’t keep saying how much the change is going to be. I’m going to be blocking the best players in the world, like I keep saying. I’m just excited for the opportunity. I know I’m going to do well if I go in and keep that same mindset and do things the right way and work hard.”

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