Bruce Matthews
refer to caption
Matthews in 1984
No. 74
Offensive tackle,
Long snapper
Personal information
Born: (1961-08-08) August 8, 1961 (age 62)
Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:305 lb (138 kg)
Career information
High school:Arcadia (Arcadia, California)
College:USC (1979–1982)
NFL draft:1983 / Round: 1 / Pick: 9
Career history
As a player:
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
NFL record
  • Most career starts with one team: 293 (Houston Oilers / Tennessee Oilers / Titans)
Career NFL statistics
Games played:296
Games started:293
Forced fumbles:5
Fumble recoveries:10
Player stats at · PFR

Bruce Rankin Matthews (born August 8, 1961) is an American former professional football player who played as a guard, center, offensive tackle, and long snapper in the National Football League (NFL) for 19 seasons, from 1983 to 2001. He spent his entire career playing for the Houston / Tennessee Oilers / Titans franchise. Highly versatile, Matthews played every position on the offensive line throughout his NFL career, starting in 99 games as a left guard, 87 as a center, 67 as a right guard, 22 as a right tackle, 17 as a left tackle, and was the long snapper on field goals, PATs, and punts. Having never missed a game due to injury, Matthews' 293 NFL games started is the third most of all time, behind quarterbacks Brett Favre and Tom Brady.

Matthews played college football for the University of Southern California, where he was recognized as a consensus All-American for the USC Trojans football team as a senior. Matthews was selected in the first round of the 1983 NFL draft by the Oilers and was a 14-time Pro Bowl selection, tied for the second-most in NFL history, and a nine-time first-team All-Pro. Matthews was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007, and his number 74 jersey is retired by the Titans.

After retiring as a player, Matthews served as an assistant coach for the Houston Texans and Titans. A member of the Matthews family of football players, he is the brother of linebacker Clay Matthews Jr.; father of center Kevin Matthews and tackle Jake Matthews; and uncle of linebacker Clay Matthews III and linebacker Casey Matthews.

Early years

Bruce Rankin Matthews was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, to Clay Matthews Sr. and Daisy Matthews. His father was a defensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers in the 1950s.[1] The Matthews family moved from a Chicago suburb to Arcadia, California, when Bruce was entering 10th grade. He played football at Arcadia High School in Arcadia, California and was an immediate football standout on the offensive and defensive line, along with doing well in high school wrestling. As a junior in 1977, Matthews was named to the All-California Interscholastic Federation third-team,[2] and as a senior, he played in the Shrine All-Star Football Classic alongside John Elway.[3] Arcadia High later retired Matthews’ No. 72 jersey.[4]

College career

Matthews attended the University of Southern California, where he played all offensive line positions at various times for the USC Trojans football team. As a senior in 1982, Matthews was shifted from weakside to strongside guard to replace departing Roy Foster as the principal blocker in the "Student Body Right" play.[5] Matthews was named to the first-team All-Pacific-10 Conference team after his junior and senior seasons. As a senior, Matthews earned consensus All-America honors and won the Morris Trophy, which is awarded to the best lineman in the conference.[6]

Professional career

Matthews is considered to be one of the most versatile offensive linemen to play in the NFL.[7][8] He started in 99 games as a left guard, 67 as a right guard, 87 as a center, 22 as a right tackle, 17 as a left tackle, and was the snapper on field goals, PATs, and punts.[9] Matthews was selected to 14 Pro Bowls, which at the time tied a league record set by Merlin Olsen.[4] Matthews was also named a first-team All-Pro nine times and an All-American Football Conference selection 12 times.[10] An extremely durable player, Matthews retired after the 2001 season having played more games (296) than any NFL player, excluding kickers and punters,[a] and played in more seasons (19) than any offensive lineman. He never missed a game due to injury, and started 229 consecutive games. Matthews is the only player who played against the Baltimore Colts in their last game at Memorial Stadium in 1983 and against the Baltimore Ravens in their last game at Memorial Stadium in 1997.[11]

1983–86: Guard, center, and tackle

The Houston Oilers drafted Matthews with the ninth overall pick in the first round of the 1983 NFL draft. During his first two seasons, Matthews blocked for future Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell. As a rookie, Matthews played guard and was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team.[12] Before his second season, Matthews was moved from right guard to center,[13] snapping to rookie quarterback Warren Moon. However, Matthews played multiple positions that season due to injuries on the offensive line; at one point he played center, guard, and tackle in successive weeks.[14] In 1985 and 1986, Matthews alternated between right and left tackle.[15]

1987–90: Right guard

Matthews sat out of the first eight games of the 1987 season due to a contract dispute.[16] When he returned, Matthews was moved back to right guard. He remained at the right guard position in 1988, 1989, and 1990, being named to the Pro Bowl each season. Matthews also earned first-team All-Pro recognition each year from the Associated Press (AP), Pro Football Weekly, and The Sporting News.[15] He thrived in the run and shoot offensive scheme adopted by the Oilers around this time, which required linemen to be exceptionally agile.[17] The holes Matthews opened up helped running back Mike Rozier to consecutive Pro Bowls in 1987 and 1988.[18]

1991–94: Center

The Oilers placed Matthews at center for the final game of the 1990 season in an effort to bolster the team's running game. Of the move, Matthews said, "I'd like to stay at guard, but forces greater than myself make these adjustments."[19] Behind blocking by Matthews and fellow future Hall of Fame guard Mike Munchak, Oilers quarterback Warren Moon led the league in passing yards in 1990 and 1991, and running back Lorenzo White was a 1992 Pro Bowl selection.[20] Matthews remained the team's center through the 1994 season, being named to the Pro Bowl each year.[15]

1995–2001: Left guard

Prior to the 1995 season, Matthews signed a four-year, $10.3 million contract extension with the Oilers.[21] That year, the Oilers signed free agent center Mark Stepnoski, and as a result, Matthews moved to left guard.[22] He spent the majority of the rest of his career at the position, occasionally filling in for injured players along the offensive line. During this time, the Oilers left Houston for Tennessee after the 1996 season. Matthews' blocking helped running back Eddie George to four straight Pro Bowl seasons.[23]

In 1999, at age 37, Matthews signed another four-year contract to remain with the Oilers.[24] That season, the Oilers rebranded as the Tennessee Titans. The team won 13 games, plus three more in the playoffs before losing to the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV.[25]

Matthews retired from football prior to the 2002 season at the age of 40.[18]


Houston Texans

On February 27, 2009, Matthews returned to Houston where he was signed on as an offensive assistant with the Houston Texans after volunteer coaching at his children's high school, Elkins High School.

Tennessee Titans

On February 9, 2011, Matthews was hired as offensive line coach by new Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak. Both were Hall of Fame linemen for the Houston Oilers. Regarding his new job, Matthews stated, "For me this is an opportunity of a lifetime. It is such a unique opportunity to work with Mike because I think he will do a great job. It is just one of those things I couldn't pass up."[26]

After the Titans finished the 2013 season with a 7–9 record, general manager Ruston Webster and president/CEO Tommy Smith met with Munchak and gave him the option to fire a large contingent of assistant coaches, which included Matthews, in exchange for an extension and a raise, or lose his job as head coach. Munchak was not willing to fire everyone they were ordering him to fire, so Munchak parted ways with the Titans, along with Matthews and the other assistant coaches they wanted him to fire.[27]

Honors and legacy

In his first year of eligibility, Matthews was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2007. He was inducted during the Enshrinement Ceremony on August 4, 2007, with the unveiling of his bust, sculpted by Scott Myers. Matthews was the first player from the Tennessee Titans to be given this honor since the relocation from Houston. He was the fifth player from the 1983 NFL draft class to be enshrined, joining Dan Marino, Eric Dickerson, John Elway, and Jim Kelly; Darrell Green, Richard Dent, and Jim Covert later became the sixth, seventh, and eighth members.[28] Matthews was selected as a guard on the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s.[29] In 2010, he was ranked 78th on The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players by the NFL Network.[17] At the 2020 Super Bowl, Matthews was named to the NFL 100 All-Time Team as one of the top 100 players of the first 100 years of the NFL.[30]

Personal life

See also: Matthews family

Matthews comes from a football family. A devout Christian as evidenced in his Hall of Fame Speech, Matthews is the son of Clay Matthews Sr., who played in the NFL in the 1950s. His brother, Clay Jr., also played 19 seasons in the NFL. Bruce is the uncle of linebacker Clay Matthews III, former NFL linebacker Casey Matthews, and Kyle Matthews of USC football. Bruce and his wife, Carrie, have seven kids: Steven, Kevin, Marilyn, Jake, Mike, Luke, and Gwen.[1] Kevin Matthews played center for Texas A&M until the 2009 football season and then played in the NFL for five years as a member of the Titans and Carolina Panthers. Jake Matthews played offensive tackle for Texas A&M and is currently the starting left tackle of the Atlanta Falcons. Mike Matthews played on the offensive line for Texas A&M, where he was the starting center.[31] His youngest son, Luke, is currently a senior at Texas A&M. Matthews is also the uncle of tight end Troy Niklas by way of his wife's sister.[32]


  1. ^ Since surpassed by Brett Favre; Matthews still holds the record for linemen.

See also


  1. ^ a b Branch, John (January 14, 2011). "For Matthews Clan, N.F.L. Is All in the Family". The New York Times. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  2. ^ "Gittens CIF Player of Year; Millikan's Caldarella honored". Independent. December 23, 1977. p. 32. Retrieved November 28, 2017 – via
  3. ^ "Jacson, Bennett get Shrine team starts". The San Bernardino County Sun. May 3, 1979. p. 87. Retrieved November 28, 2017 – via
  4. ^ a b Dwyre, Bill (February 3, 2007). "Bottom line: Matthews deserves nod". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  5. ^ "USC notes". The San Bernardino County Sun. April 29, 1982. p. 79. Retrieved November 27, 2017 – via
  6. ^ Scarborough, Alex; Gemmell, Kevin (August 30, 2016). "College football royalty collides: The all-time best Tide and Trojans lineups". Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  7. ^ Wilner, Barry (August 2, 2007). "Versatile Bruce Matthews was hard to ignore as Oiler and Titan". Associated Press. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  8. ^ Walker, Teresa M. (December 5, 1999). "Ironman". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  9. ^ "Bruce Matthews Bio". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  10. ^ "Bruce Matthews's Career Highlights". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  11. ^ Ginsburg, David (December 14, 1997). "Oilers help close out another Baltimore era". The Capital. Associated Press. p. 48. Retrieved December 1, 2017 – via
  12. ^ "Dickerson voted top NFL rookie". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Associated Press. January 22, 1984. p. 50. Retrieved November 28, 2017 – via
  13. ^ "Oilers try Matthews at center". The Galveston Daily News. Associated Press. April 13, 1984. p. 19. Retrieved November 28, 2017 – via
  14. ^ "Injuries have slowed progress of Oiler offensive line". The Galveston Daily News. Associated Press. July 28, 1985. p. 30. Retrieved November 28, 2017 – via
  15. ^ a b c "Bruce Matthews Stats". Sports Reference. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  16. ^ "Moon has become leader". The Galveston Daily News. Associated Press. December 20, 1987. p. 28. Retrieved November 28, 2017 – via
  17. ^ a b Burke, Chris (March 23, 2012). "Best of the Firsts, No. 9: Bruce Matthews". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  18. ^ a b "Veteran OL Bruce Matthews to retire". United Press International. July 15, 2002. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  19. ^ "Oilers replace 4 players". Del Rio News Herald. Associated Press. December 28, 1990. p. 8. Retrieved December 2, 2017 – via
  20. ^ Boclair, David (April 29, 2016). "Titans continue to bolster offensive line". Nashville Post. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  21. ^ "Oilers, All-Pro center agree to $10.3 million deal". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Associated Press. July 31, 1995. p. 16. Retrieved December 2, 2017 – via
  22. ^ "Oilers offensive line taking shape". The Brazosport Facts. Associated Press. August 9, 1995. p. 11. Retrieved December 2, 2017 – via
  23. ^ Shapiro, Leonard (January 27, 2000). "For Titans' Matthews, a Long Time Coming". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  24. ^ "Plus: Pro Football – Tennessee; Veteran Oiler Remains as a Titan". The New York Times. Associated Press. May 19, 1999. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  25. ^ Freeman, Mike (January 31, 2000). "Superbowl XXXIV; Rams Win Super Bowl Thriller, as Titans Fall a Yard Short". The New York Times. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  26. ^ "Titans Name Matthews Offensive Line Coach". Tennessee Titans. February 9, 2011. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  27. ^ Kuharsky, Paul (January 6, 2014). "Munchak: Firing wasn't over two assistants". Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  28. ^ Weisman, Larry (April 17, 2007). "Greatest draft ever? Class of 1983 has Hall of a résumé". USA Today. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  29. ^ "NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  30. ^ "Official All-Time Team Roster". NFL.COM. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  31. ^ McClain, John (August 10, 2008). "NFL Notebook: Touchdown Club to honor Matthews". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  32. ^ Feldman, Bruce (July 14, 2015). "The next Matthews brother is 15 and already 6-foot-4, 320 pounds". Fox Sports. Retrieved November 30, 2017.