Former Green Bay Packers Linebacker Clay Matthews Officially Retires

by Chris Haney
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, longtime Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews III officially announced his retirement from the NFL. Matthews hadn’t played since the 2019 season, but he did garner interest from teams the following year. After sitting out the last few seasons, the Pro Bowler has decided to hang up his cleats for good.

Clay Matthews spoke with Packers Wire‘s Brandon Carwile yesterday in an interview announcing his retirement. “My playing days are over,” Matthews simply said in the interview since he wasn’t quite sure what the protocol is for formally announcing his retirement.

The Packers selected Matthews out of the University of Southern California with the 26th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. The 6’3″, 255-pounder would go on to become one of the franchise’s greatest-ever linebackers. Over his 10 seasons in Green Bay, he’d make the Pro Bowl six times. Additionally, the Associated Press named him the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He ends his career as the Packers’ official all-time sack leader with 83.5 sacks.

The 36-year-old was also a key contributor during Green Bay’s Super Bowl XLV victory in 2010. However, his tenure in Wisconsin came to an end after the 2018 season. Due to injuries and his age, Green Bay chose not to re-sign the fan-favorite linebacker.

Instead, he signed a 2-year deal with the Los Angeles Rams. But he only played in his home state of California for one season. Matthews didn’t realize it at the time, but it would be his last season in the league.

Clay Matthews Left ‘Shocked’ After L.A. Rams Release

After playing in 13 games and recording 8 sacks in 2019, many considered it a comeback season for the player. But L.A. decided to move on from Matthews and released the linebacker to his own dismay.

“I was shocked, to be honest,” Matthews said to Packers Wire. “I thought I had a very solid year. I broke my jaw and missed three games, but I came back as if I didn’t miss any time and felt good.”

A few teams came calling for the linebacker’s services, including the Denver Broncos. But he couldn’t reach a deal with any of the organizations to play in 2020. Matthews and his wife welcomed their third child around that time. Plus, the Covid-19 pandemic had just spread across the country. Therefore he decided to sit out the 2020 season.

“I had a few other offers after for the 2020 season,” Matthews explained in his retirement interview. “But we had just moved to L.A., and we had just had our third child, and it was the middle of COVID. So there were a lot of unknowns. Ultimately, there wasn’t a situation out there that made me want to relocate the family again. I wanted to focus on the next chapter, which is being a dad and being home a lot more.”

The Linebacker Hopes to Officially Retire as a Green Bay Packer

It’s been almost three years since Clay Matthews played in the NFL. Yet he still enjoys watching games on the weekend and is looking forward to hopefully returning to Green Bay soon. He wants to officially retire as a Packer and to be able to share that moment with his family.

“I definitely look forward to it,” Matthews said. “My kids are getting older, so they understand what I was able to do. So I very much look forward to showing them around Lambeau [Field], and where we used to live, and all the things that were an integral part of their young lives and my young life as well.”

As Green Bay’s all-time sacks leader and one of the best defensive players in the franchise’s history, it’s inevitable that he’ll be welcomed back soon. One day in the near future, he can likely expect a call that he’ll be inducted into Green Bay’s Hall of Fame as well.

“I would definitely be very appreciative and humbled,” Clay Matthews said.