Clay Matthews, who was one of the NFL’s top linebackers during his 19-year career, will have another shot at being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Matthews was one of 25 semifinalists selected on Thursday by the hall’s 12-member Seniors Committee for consideration as members of the 2023 class.
In addition, the 12-member Coach/Contributor Committee advanced 29 semifinalists of their own into the next round of consideration.
According to a news release on the hall’s website, the selection committees will now choose 12 players and 12 coach/contributors to advance as finalists. Those groups will be announced on July 27. From there, the Seniors Committee will meet on August 16 to approve up to three players for final consideration as members of the Class of 2023.
Matthews has been a familiar name on the list, but 20 years into his eligibility the closest he has come was being named a finalist in 2021.
A mainstay on a Cleveland Browns defense that helped the team reach three AFC Championship Games in the 1980s, Matthews played 16 seasons with the Browns and posted 75 sacks - still the official franchise career record and just two-and-a-half off Bill Glass’ unofficial record - 1,430 tackles, 14 interceptions and 24 forced fumbles.
He also made the Pro Bowl four times, with three consecutive trips from 1987 to 1989 as a key part of a Browns team that made the playoffs five consecutive years.
Matthews was inducted into the franchise’s Ring of Honor in 2019.
Matthews closed out his career by playing three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.
The other semifinalists among the senior players are Ken Anderson, Maxie Baughan, Mark Clayton, Roger Craig, LaVern Dilweg, Randy Gradishar, Lester Hayes, Chris Hinton, Chuck Howley, Cecil Isbell, Joe Jacoby, Billie “White Shoes” Johnson, Mike Kenn, Joe Klecko, Bob Kuechenberg, George Kunz, Jim Marshall, Eddie Meador, Stanley Morgan, Tommy Nobis, Ken Riley, Sterling Sharpe, Otis Taylor and Everson Walls.
Semifinalists in the coach/contributor group are K.S. “Bud” Adams Jr., Roone Arledge, C.O. Brocato, Don Coryell, Otho Davis, Ralph Hay, Mike Holmgren, Frank “Bucko” Kilroy, Eddie Kotal, Robert Kraft, Rich McKay, John McVay, former Browns owner Art Modell, Clint Murchison Jr., Buddy Parker, Carl Peterson, Dan Reeves, Lee Remmel, Art Rooney Jr., former Browns head coach Marty Schottenheimer (who also coached Matthews), Jerry Seeman, Mike Shanahan, Clark Shaughnessy, Seymour Siwoff, Amy Trask, Jim Tunney, Jack Vainisi, Lloyd Wells and John Wooten, who also played for the Browns.
If he makes it this time, Matthews will become the 17th member of the Browns franchise to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.