When people think of famous families in the NFL, the first name that comes to mind is probably the Mannings, with father Archie and sons Peyton and Eli all league alumni, with the younger Mannings among the best quarterbacks of their era. But other families have also had multiple players in the NFL, and one of the more underrated may be the Matthews family, which has sent four relatives to the league.
Here’s a look at four members of the Matthews clan who have played in the league, and how much the family has made from the NFL.
The Matthews family NFL dynasty
A number of members of the Matthews family have played in the league. Here’s a look at each of their careers.
The first member of the Matthews clan to play in the league was Clay Matthews, who played just four seasons — 1950 and 1953-55 — all for the 49ers. He played in 45 games, recording one interception and 11 fumble recoveries.
Clay Matthews Jr.
Clay’s oldest son, Clay Matthews Jr., followed in his father’s footsteps in joining the league but had a much more prolific career. He played 19 seasons, 16 with the Browns and three with the Falcons, from 1978-96. A four-time Pro Bowler, Clay Jr. played in 278 games and recorded 16 interceptions — including a pick-six — and recovered 14 fumbles, returning one for a touchdown.
Clay Jr.’s brother Bruce is the only member of the family who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He also spent 19 seasons in the league before retiring following the 2001 campaign. He played in 296 games and made the Pro Bowl 14 times.
Clay Matthews III
Clay Jr.’s son, Clay III, is still active in the league and entering his 12th season in the NFL. He spent the first 11 seasons of his career with the Packers before signing with the Rams prior to last season. Clay was recently released by the team and his currently a free-agent.
He is a six-time Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl XLV champion with Green Bay. He has scored three defensive touchdowns, two on interception returns and one on a fumble recovery. For his career, he has recorded 91.5 sacks.
How much has Matthews family made?
With so many relatives having played in the league, the family has earned a lot of money from the NFL. Clay III is the only member of the family who has played during the big-money era of the NFL and thus the only one whose career earnings are in the upper eight-figures.
Through 2019, he has earned more than $81 million on the field, with more money coming from endorsement deals. Salary figures for the older players are harder to find, but Bruce signed a four-year, $10.3 million contract with the Oilers prior to the 1995 season.
All told, the Matthews’ total take from the league is approaching $100 million, and could surpass that milestone depending on how much Clay III earns for the rest of his career.
The life of an NFL family
Growing up the son of an NFL player, Clay III learned what life as a football player was like at a young age. He recalls thinking, as a kid, that like all kids he wanted to emulate his father, so he thought he “would just naturally fall into the family business of playing in the NFL.”
He remembered being 7 or 8 years old when his family moved from Cleveland to Atlanta when Clay Jr. went to the Falcons as a free agent. Being an NFL player was all that Clay III knew growing up, having a father, uncle, and grandfather who were all in the league.