Bruce Matthews Named Hall of Fame Finalist

Bruce Matthews Named Hall of Fame Finalist


Bruce Matthews Named Hall of Fame Finalist


In his first year of eligibility, Bruce Matthews has become one of seventeen finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2007. If selected, as expected, Matthews would be the first player to enter the HOF as a Tennessee Titan.
In his nineteen year career, all with the Titans/Oilers organization, Matthews played in an incredible 296 games, setting the NFL record (later surpassed by Jerry Rice, 303) among non-kickers. Also among his honors are the league record (tied with Merlin Olsen) for the most Pro Bowl appearances, with fourteen. Matthews was named a first-team All-Pro nine times.
In the span of his career, Matthews played every position on the offensive line, and was a Pro Bowl selection nine times at guard and five at center. He started 99 games at left guard, 87 at center, 67 at right guard, 22 at right tackle, and 17 at left tackle. That’s versatility. How many linemen can make that claim? None.
But I also remember Bruce Almighty for being a leader, on the field and in the locker room. Even after his skills had declined and he was no longer the player he once was, Matthews was still the man on the team. You can be assured that some of the crap which has gone on the last two years would never have happened with Bruce Matthews around.
Anyone who had an attitude problem had to answer to Bruce, who would warn them, “Son, that’s not the way we do things around here.” If that didn’t work, the offender (usually a rookie) would receive a free haircut, get dunked in an ice bath, and/or have a red alert called. Red alerts consisted of a player having his hands and feet taped together, carried on a pole to a practice field, and unceremoniously dumped there, left to fend for himself, trying to hop back to the locker room.
Related tidbits:
• The Titans retired Matthews’ number 74 jersey in 2002.
• There is speculation that the Titans could appear in the preseason Hall of Fame game if Matthews is selected. The game is traditionally played between teams with inductees.
• Other former Titans who will someday receive HOF consideration are Frank Wycheck, Eddie George, and Steve McNair, but none have credentials as strong as Matthews’.
• Many current Titans players were not born when Bruce Matthews played his first NFL game in 1983. Many of them were still in high school when he played his last game in 2001.
Titans trivia: Matthews was a teammate of two future coaches, with Jeff Fisher at USC and O-line coach Mike Munchak at Houston.
Matthews was the presenter for Munchak at his HOF induction. Here’s the transcript of their speeches.
Current HOF bylaws call for three to six people to be inducted. Besides Matthews, the other finalists are former commissioner Paul Tagliabue, modern day players running back Thurman Thomas, defensive ends Fred Dean and Richard Dent, guards Russ Grimm and Bob Kuechenberg, punter Ray Guy, wide receivers Michael Irvin, Art Monk and Andre Reed; linebackers Derrick Thomas and Andre Tippett, cornerback Roger Wehrli; and tackle Gary Zimmerman. The Senior Committee nominees are former Cleveland Browns guard Gene Hickerson and Detroit Lions tight end Charlie Sanders.

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