Bruce Matthews Elected to Hall of Fame
No longer will he be called All-Pro lineman Bruce Matthews. From this point forward, the proper title will be Hall of Fame lineman Bruce Matthews.
With his election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Matthews becomes the first Titan who will become enshrined in the hall. His number 74 jersey has already been retired by the franchise.
Matthews was elected in his first year of eligibility. There didn't seem to be much doubt that he'd make it. When he retired after 19 seasons, he held the record for most games played by a position player, 296, and tied Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen for a record 14 consecutive Pro Bowl appearances. He was an All-Pro nine times. A true ironman, he never missed a game due to injury.
His versatility was remarkable. Selected to the Pro Bowl nine times at guard, Matthews also made it five times as a center. He started the equivalent of a full season or more at every position on the offensive line. In his career, Matthews started 99 games at left guard, 87 at center, 67 at right guard, 22 at right tackle and 17 at left tackle.
"It's a dream come true," said Matthews. "I played football for the love of the game. I never had to grow up. ... This is an incredible honor that I would not have gotten if not for the love of my teammates and coaches."
I'm glad to see Bruce get this honor. He was one of the faces of the franchise when it moved to Tennessee and they made it enjoyable for us.
Here's what some others had to say about him.
K.S. "Bud" Adams, Jr. - "There has only been one player that I know of who has matched longevity with decorated success on the field and that would be Bruce Matthews. He was a great family man and cared for his community. You put what he meant on the field with him as a person and you have a true professional football player."
Jeff Fisher - "The consistency in which he handled his job year after year was typical of those who end up in Canton. He was a true professional and was looked up to by all of his teammates through his career. He had a quiet influence on generations of players in this franchise [who] learned what it was to be a teammate, a professional football player and a family man."
Mike Munchak - "I saw him first-hand as a player and the high level he played at for so many years. He played whatever position that was asked of him and he excelled at all of them."
Eddie George - "It was a privilege to run behind him as a running back. I brag all the time that I was able to play with Bruce. More than anything though, I had a great appreciation for him as a man how he carried himself, being a man of God and a family man."
Steve McNair - "In my opinion, Bruce was the most talented interior lineman to play the game. Regardless of his age near the end of his career, he made every day fun to be around and was a big kid playing a grown man's game."
Brad Hopkins - "Bruce was one of the most dominating players to ever play the game he was such an outstanding athlete, who happened to play offensive line. More than that, he was an outstanding ambassador for the game. He epitomized what being a professional football player SHOULD be, not what it is. He was humble, respectful of the game, a student of the game and he involved his teammates in everything that he did. I relished working with him on a daily basis and I looked at Bruce as a person and a player that I wanted to emulate, because he had such a great formula. He was a great player, a great man and person everyone in that locker room looked up to."
Warren Moon - "He was certainly a first ballot guy. He was one of the most versatile offensive linemen to ever play the game ... I personally owe a lot of my success to him."
Matthews will become the seventh member of the Titans/Oilers franchise in the Hall of Fame when he is enshrined in Canton this August. He'll join QB George Blanda (class of 1981), S Ken Houston (1986), RB Earl Campbell (1991), G Mike Munchak (2001), DE Elvin Bethea (2003) and QB Warren Moon (2006).
The Class of 2007 also includes Browns guard Gene Hickerson, Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin, Lions tight end Charlie Sanders, Bills running back Thurman Thomas and Cardinals cornerback Roger Wehrli.
Congratulations, Bruce, on this recognition for a job well done.