Jake MatthewsLeft Tackle

Rotary Lombardi Award Semifinalist
Outland Trophy
Senior CLASS Award Finalist

 
 

Living Up To The Family Name

 

by Rusty Burson | 12th Man Magazine

Sitting inside the Bright Football Complex, the normally reserved Jake Matthews laughs loudly and shakes his head playfully when he is asked about the best football player in his family.

It’s a very difficult question, as the Matthews name is synonymous with big-time football. The family tree is actually a goal post, and the lineage is listed in depth chart form.

The Baldwins act; Kennedys run for political office; Jacksons sing; and the Matthews play big-time football.

Jake and Mike Matthews’ grandfather was an All-American at Georgia Tech who made it to the NFL. Their uncle, Clay Jr., played 278 career games with the Browns and Falcons in 19 seasons and was a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

Legendary former CFL and NFL quarterback Warren Moon said this about their father on the day he retired in 2001: “Bruce was the most talented, intelligent and competitive lineman I played with in my 20 years of professional football. There may have been more physical players or intelligent players or competitive players, but no one had them all wrapped up into one package like Bruce.”

Jake’s and Mike’s cousin, Clay III, was an All-Pro for the Packers in 2010 and ’12 and was the NFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2010. Another cousin, Casey, was first-team All-Pac-10 with Oregon in 2010 and recorded 48 tackles last year with the Philadelphia Eagles.

“I’d have to say I’m the best of all of them,” Jake said with a lighthearted laugh. “No, in all seriousness, I have to go with my dad. There have been so many great ones in my family. But in my mind, my dad is the greatest offensive lineman to ever play the game. He was such a great player. Growing up, I always enjoyed learning the game from him. Getting to see him play at the highest level was a great thing for me.

“But it is very special to be part of this family. My dad and my uncle were able to do so many things in the NFL. If I could possibly accomplish half as much as either my dad or uncle, it would be a dream come true. And my cousins have done great things, too. My youngest brother, Luke, who is 13, is probably going to be the biggest one out of all of us. You can tell he is getting to the age where he is all about football. He just senses it. With our family, it’s just in our blood, and it is something that we all have in common.”

It’s more than merely genetics, Bruce says. The Matthews men seem to possess a sixth sense for the game.

“Football has served as a bond for us because all of our minds are kind of wired the same way,” Bruce said. “It’s one thing to talk about offensive line schemes and techniques, but when you can also visualize it in your mind and feel it, it gives you a big advantage. Your average fan out there probably wouldn’t understand it. It’s not just Xs and Os to us; there is actually a feeling to it. I have felt honored to have been involved with all the boys. It’s a pleasure to watch them grow, mature and play.”

This season could be especially pleasurable, as Bruce and Carrie are able to watch two of their sons play on the same field for the first time since Jake’s senior year at Elkins, when Mike also started at center for the Knights. Because of Bruce’s NFL coaching responsibilities, he will not see a game in person until this weekend's Alabama game, when the Titans are also in the Lone Star State to face the Texans on Sept. 15 in Houston.

He is looking forward to that game, although he admits having two sons on the same field at the same time is much more difficult than most fans might understand.

“It’s very special to watch them on the same team,” Bruce said. “When I watched the spring game, I was reminded how difficult it is to watch them both in high school. I like to focus in on whoever is playing that particular game. When you have two boys in the game, it makes it hard. I was like, ‘Oh gosh, who do I choose to watch on this play?’ I finally figured out that I will focus on Jake because he is a senior. If they show a replay, I will watch Mikey. But it really is cool to see them out there and enjoying it as much as they are. My wife and I are very proud of them both, as well as all of our kids.

“There’s no question I’m still a huge SC fan, and there is no wavering in my SC loyalty. But A&M is a very special place. The relationship the A&M players have with the fans, and how they are really part of the traditions makes A&M pretty unique. Having lived in Houston for the better part of the last 30 years, I’ve been exposed to the power of the Aggie network and how passionate the A&M fans are. I am very proud three of my sons have been to A&M and I’m proud to wear Aggie gear when I go to games. A&M is part of the family now.”

And the domino effect continues to pay huge dividends. Or in the case of the Matthews family, perhaps it should be referred to as the “pancake effect.”