The Browns continue to honor their roots, as the team announced Wednesday that they will induct former linebacker Clay Matthews Jr. into the Ring of Honor.
Matthews enshrinement in Browns lore comes after he failed to earn nomination into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for a third straight year. The legendary linebacker, who spent 16 seasons (1978-1993) with the Browns, will be the first member of the Browns of the currently 16 player Ring of Honor, who’s bust isn’t on display in Canton.
“To me it was a no-brainer,” Browns’ general manager John Dorsey said. “That guy symbolizes everything it means to be a Cleveland Brown. Respect and honor for the game of professional football. His passion for the game. I can’t wait to meet him when we do this. It will be special for him.”
It was Dorsey who made the call to Matthews earlier this summer to let him know of their decision to recognize him. For Matthews, it was a special moment.
“I was honored,” Matthews said. “I mean, the Browns have a pretty good legacy of players in that group. We lived through that generation of players mostly in the 60s who were so successful, and to be included in that group is just an honor.”
It will be even more special come Week Three, when the Browns plan to induct him at halftime of their Sunday NIght Football matchup with the Los Angeles Rams. It will be a full family affair as Matthews’ son, Clay Matthews III plays linebacker for the Rams and will be there to witness his father getting honored.
“With that platform, gosh,” Matthews said. “To honor me at the platform and with that going on and having him here, I’m just honored. I’m honored by the Haslam family and the folks who think I’m worthy of doing it.”
Matthews added that he and his family still have a soft spot for Cleveland.
“We’ll have them all there,” Matthews said. “They love their time back here. All of them talk about it. Heck, they’d come back even if I wasn’t honored.”
The Browns certainly didn’t miss when they used the 12th overall pick in the 1978 NFL Draft to select Matthews out of USC . The linebacker went on to play in 278 in his career – most of them with the Browns – and during his 16 years with Cleveland racked up 76.5 sacks, 1,430 total tackles, 14 interceptions, 24 forced fumbles and 13 recoveries.
Matthews was an anchor on the Browns defenses of the 80s, which featured back-to-back runs to the AFC Championship game in 1986 and 1987, along with a third appearance in 1989
“When I come back here, the folks are just so involved and cared so much about the team. It made my 16 years here just delightful. The way you could go anywhere, and folks here wouldn’t bother you too much, but you’d have a conversation and they were knowledgeable and informed. It was just a great experience. The only thing lacking was getting completely over the top and winning the Super Bowl, but we’re heading in the right direction.”
The news of Matthews enshrinement comes one day after the franchise reveal it is unveiling a statue for legendary quarterback Otto Graham in the southwest corner of the stadium on Sept. 7.