Some athletes are born great. Some just get lucky.
Then there's the Matthews family — a hereditary condition that has pulverized quarterbacks for nearly a century.
It's rare to find a family as talented as this one. The Matthews mob aren't always stylish. They don't occupy the front page of newspapers on a daily basis. And they certainly aren't compared with one another, unlike the tedious discussion of Eli and Peyton Manning.
That is until now.
You'd be labeled a madman if you threatened Clay Matthews. It's unheard of, even in the NFL. His untamed hair and intimidating personality scares people in their living room — his 13.5 sacks last year were impressive too, I guess.
But as far as sibling rivalry is concerned, younger brother Casey Matthews is unmoved. The 2011 Draft remains his focus. Being recognized as one of the leagues most promising rookie linebackers, his ultimate goal.
It's a set of circumstances all too familiar with the Matthews family. Clay was a walk on at USC in 2005, where he performed more shoulder checks than a paranoid learner driver on testing day. In the end he made a name for himself. Six years later, that same mentality has spilled over into the big leagues — all of that hair perhaps disguises the eyes in the back of his head.
Now it's Casey's turn.
"Make the family proud, son".
Here's the thing about Clay's younger brother, though, we don't know much about him. Yes, he was labeled one of the Top 120 Players To Know during his days with Oregon, but other than that, Casey is an unknown. A mystery man. Waiting for a small window of opportunity to stun the world like his brother.
So now it's time to peel away the onion.
Oregon made the National Championship Game last year . They were impressive. You'd be a fool to think the Ducks got that far without Casey Matthews. You'd also be dumb to think Matthews forced fumble in the fourth quarter didn't test the resiliency of one Cam Newton.
Therefore, Casey has something to call his own. The fumble may not have payed off like it did for Clay in the Super Bowl, but let it be known that effort and workmanship is present in Casey's genes — not that it was ever up for debate.
It's an area Casey recognizes himself. Although he admits to the pressure of possibly playing second best behind his brother.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself, just seeing the success my dad had, my brother is having,” Casey told Scout.com. “I put pressure on myself to get to their level. Friends will ask me, ‘Do you feel pressure?’ I don’t really see it as that. I put a certain amount on myself. It’s not necessarily that I have to live up to the name, though it would be nice playing at their level".
The pressure Casey talks about is immense. It isn't a rivalry so to speak. Rather, a friendly comparison. One that could haunt him like an unfunny high school nickname or a bad 1980s mullet for his entire career.
Terry Bradshaw, we're looking at you.
Casey placed four interceptions on the board last year. He is dynamic as Clay is in that department. He can jump from thin air and pick a quarterback off before you've taken a sip of your Coke. But can he keep pace with a wide receiver like DeSean Jackson?
Don't hold him to it.
Other than the fumble in the National Championship Game, experts say Casey "works out well". This may mean as much as an authentic JaMarcus Russell jersey in ten years time. But during the NFL Combine, a shoulder injury picked up during the bench-press already has onlookers sweating through their polo shirts as they think "uh-oh".
Becoming injury prone remains to be seen. Casey isn't as athletic as Clay may be. But don't be scared of the raging beehive, it's one worth poking. Honey may come as a result if we are patient, although comparing him to Clay is also satisfying.
People who take Casey's side on this debate revert to the Matthews family tree. The way some speak about this historic family would lead you to believe that they are all joined at the hip, celebrate the same birthday, and are somehow capable of great things no matter how unskilled one member may be.
This isn't the case.
If you want to knock Casey about something other than his Rapunzel hair or his see-saw future, make sure you take a stab at his height. He doesn't scream frightening linebacker like Ray Lewis does.
Casey is six foot one, weighs 231 pounds. He'd make a great NHL player, maybe. But the linebacker position? No. Sure, he's proved to be dominant many times, but a lack of size is still a major weakness.
Casey isn't that strong, either. Don't get me wrong, I would never hand him a cinder-block and say "Do your worst". That isn't to say he is the cliche "immovable object", however. Instead, he is quite the opposite — a movable beanbag if you will.
Here's one more thing to consider: Casey's Draft stock.
Clay was fortunate, he was drafted in the first round by the Packers with pick No.26. USC was kind to him, he made a name for himself, and now Green Bay have another player they can gloat about while other teams curse themselves for not being more intelligent.
Quietly golf clap Ted Thompson if you will.
Casey on the other hand, could disappoint every Oregon fan in the nation. Rumor has it he could slip as low as the third or fourth round. Wind up on a team like Miami or Cleveland. While he spends his days warming the wood in the shadow of his brilliant sibling.
Is it just me, or do their careers seem to be almost in reverse?
Still, Clay and Casey aren't "The Odd Couple" just yet. There is no quirky theme song. Neither dress in overpriced suits, and Casey is nowhere near as funny as Tony Randall.
Let's also not forget Clay faced the same hardships as his brother three years ago. He too was labeled small and weak. But Clay worked hard in the Combine. Casey may have missed the boat completely — that's if it ever sailed by.
Clay is better than Casey.
Clay Matthews, Jr. is better than both.
And Bruce Matthews... well he rules the roost entirely.
Family traditions. Competitive, aren't they?
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