Bob Matheson
No. 56, 53
Personal information
Born:(1944-11-25)November 25, 1944
Boone, North Carolina
Died:September 5, 1994(1994-09-05) (aged 49)
Durham, North Carolina
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:235 lb (107 kg)
Career information
High school:Appalachian
(Boone, North Carolina)
NFL Draft:1967 / Round: 1 / Pick: 18
Career history
As a player:
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Interception yards:152
Player stats at PFR

Robert Matheson (November 25, 1944 – September 5, 1994) was an American football linebacker who played 13 seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He played in three Super Bowls for the Miami Dolphins, including their 1972 and 1973 championships.

A linebacker at Duke University, he was drafted in 1967 by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the NFL Draft, was the first year of the common draft between the AFL and NFL. He was then acquired by the Dolphins prior to the 1971 season, after Miami defensive coordinator Bill Arnsparger requested head coach Don Shula to do so. Miami gave up their second round draft pick in 1972 in exchange.[1] Matheson went to Miami one year after the Dolphins acquired Paul Warfield from Cleveland.

Matheson was often used by the Dolphins as a fourth linebacker in passing situations. This defensive alignment was often referred to as the "53" defense, named for Matheson's No. 53 jersey. This is also referred to as a 3–4 defense, with three linemen and four linebackers.[citation needed]

After leaving the Dolphins in 1979, Matheson returned to Duke as an assistant coach. He later coached special teams and linebackers for five years with the Miami Dolphins. He then joined Duke alumni John Gutekunst as an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota. In 1993, he returned to Duke to work at its Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Matheson died on September 5, 1994 at Duke University Hospital from complications of Hodgkin's disease, which he had had for 13 years.[2]


  1. ^ "Matheson Swells Linebacking Corp". The Miami News. Miami, Florida. September 2, 1971. p. 20. Retrieved October 10, 2018 – via open access.
  2. ^ "Bob Matheson; Football Player, 49". The New York Times. September 7, 1994. Retrieved November 9, 2007.