Cleveland Browns: On Clay Matthews chances of induction into HOF

Cleveland Browns Clay Matthews Pro Football Hall of Fame (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns Clay Matthews Pro Football Hall of Fame (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns, and more in particularly, Clay Matthews got some good news that he’s a semifinalist for the HOF. But what are his chances?

Clay Matthews Jr. is a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the third time since becoming eligible.

Browns’ fans are estatic over the though of enshrining a beloved member of the Browns’ family into the Hall of Fame, which sits 45 minutes south of Cleveland in Canton.

But Matthews still has major hurdles to climb to wear the yellow jacket given to NFL Hall of Famers.

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He’s never advanced out of the semifinalist round. In order for Cleveland writers Tony Grossi or Mary Kay Cabot to make a case for the linebacker, Matthews must become a finalist, meaning he’s one of the remaining 15 players who will debated when the scribes meet to pick the next Hall of Fame class right around the time of the Super Bowl.

What are Matthews chances?

1 You’ve got to like his chances of advancing considering the other linebacker names on the ballot. The other three are Zach Thomas, Sam Mills and Karl Mecklenburg.

2. Derek Brooks is often used as a reason Matthews should be enshrined. They both had similar numbers, but there’s one glaring difference.

Brooks was critical to Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl win in 2002, and of course, that team owed everything to its defense. Many probably don’t remember, but Brad Johnson quarterbacked that team.

Those Bucs weren’t quite the 2000 Ravens–their offense was better and the defense was not as good, but ultimately Brooks was an elite player on the unit responsible for brining the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Tampa.

It’s a signature win, Matthews just doesn’t have.

3. Signature wins matter and it hurts that Matthews never even played in a Super Bowl, as on three occasions his date with destiny was robbed by John Elway.

4. With that said, the makeup of a Hall of Fame voter is changing. The old guard is gradually being replaced with voters from different mediums who are younger and may place value on different statistics.

5. If longevity helps a player get over the hump, look no further than last summer’s baseball Hall of Fame enshrinement. Jack Morris was on the ballot just about forever, until finally earning his plaque last July.

Morris’ consistent production over such a long period of time couldn’t be ignored.

6. The same could be said about Matthews. He’s the Browns all-time leader in sacks (62.5). He has 70 career quarterback takedowns, adding 7.5 more after leaving the Browns in 1993. He made four Pro Bowls. Of the 278 games Matthews played, 232 came in a Browns’ uniform.

Matthews ranks seventh all time, with 1,595 total tackles. Brooks is sixth (1,710).

7. Matthews candidacy has enjoyed a renaissance thanks to his daughter, Jennifer, who’s brought her Dad’s campaign to social media. The move has gotten people taking about a Matthews, which is a great thing.

8. Ok, time to get off the fence. I don’t see Matthews advancing into the final 15. I’d love to be wrong.

In addition to the aforementioned linebackers, here’s the other semifinalists  WR Hines Ward, S Ed Reed, WR Isaac Bruce; WR Tory Holt; G/C Kevin Mawae; TE Tony Gonzalez; DL Richard Seymour; S Steve Atwater, RB Edgerrin James, G Alan Faneca; T Tony Boselli; S Darren Woodson; FS John Lynch; CB Ty Law, S Leroy Butler, CB Champ Bailey, G Steve Hutchinson, CB/S Ronde Barber; Coaches Jimmy Johnson, Don Coryell and Tom Flores.

9. From that list, I’d guess Ward, Reed and Gonzalez are locks.

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10. If Matthews can get to the finalist round, I do like his chances because scribes Mary Kay Cabot and Tony Grossi would then get to present Matthews’ case to the voters. This has never happened before and I think a refresher course would do wonders to help his candidacy.

11. Getting there is the biggest hurdle, though.