By Spencer Stueve
One of America’s first, and greatest, football families has roots in Arcadia, California. Howard Lynn Matthews was a college athletic coach, and he would help teach a number of sports to his children, who would raise boys of their own, all reaching the top of the professional football world. Howard was born in 1889 in Jefferson, Ohio and would coach boxing, baseball, and track and field at Citadel University.
Howard’s son, Clay Matthews Sr., would be the first to reach the National Football League, playing four years for the San Francisco 49ers in the 1950’s. Clay had two sons who carried on the football tradition in the Matthews family. Clay Jr. and Bruce would both reach heights their father and grandfather only dreamed of. After spending most of their youth in Chicago, the Matthews family moved to Arcadia in 1977. Clay Jr. was already off to college and entering his senior season at USC. Bruce would spend three years playing for the Arcadia Apaches before following in his brothers footsteps and joining the Trojans.
For Clay Jr. and Bruce, the accolades would follow them wherever they went. Clay spent 19 seasons in the NFL, making four Pro Bowls, and being named All-Pro three different times. His brother Bruce, the former Apache, was even better. After being named an All-American his senior season at USC, Bruce went on to a brilliant NFL career. He, too, played 19 seasons, making 14 Pro Bowls, and being named All-Pro 10 different times. His number 74 is permanently retired by the Tennessee Titans, and he is considered one of the greatest offensive lineman in NFL history.
The story of the Matthews family does not end with Clay or Bruce, however. Clay’s two sons, Clay III and Casey Matthews, each have made the NFL, with Clay III still chugging along in year number nine for the Green Bay Packers. Bruce’s sons, Kevin, Jake, and Mike, each made the NFL, as well, with Jake still playing for the Atlanta Falcons.
Though the Matthews family no longer resides in Arcadia, and the days of Bruce in his high school uniform are long gone, the story of this football family is incomplete without mention of the city of Arcadia. The greatest Matthews player of all was once an Apache.