Bruce Matthews ought to be a shoo-in for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After deliberations, the selection committee will announce the Class of 2007 on February 3, one day before the Super Bowl.
If selected, Matthews would probably be the last Houston Oiler selected and would be the first Tennessee Titan enshrined.
Matthews never missed a game due to injury in his nineteen-year career, while starting at all five positions on the offensive line. He played in 296 games, then a record for positional players, starting 292 of them. He was a Pro Bowler 14 consecutive years, nine at guard and five at center.
Matthews made the following comments Wednesday afternoon to the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain.
To have my name mentioned with so many great players that Ive admired for so long is almost overwhelming. I felt like God made me to do what I did, and I loved every minute of it. And now, to be blessed like this, well, Im just about speechless.
What an honor. Its almost surreal.
I wouldnt trade my experiences with the Oilers for anything. I respect the history of the Oilers. For someone to say that I might be the last Oiler, well, its exciting and overwhelming at the same time.
Im tied to my Houston roots, but I enjoyed my years in Nashville, too. When I think of where we were when we moved to Tennessee and how well it ended for me there, I cant tell you how much I appreciated that experience, too.
Matthews was drafted ninth in 1983, after Houston traded down twice from the second position. In doing so, the Oilers left future Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson, Jim Kelly, and Dan Marino on the board. That’s a measure of respect the Oilers had for Matthews’ abilities.
His longevity was such that he blocked for both Earl Campbell and Eddie George, and protected both Warren Moon and Steve McNair. Two of them are in the Hall of Fame and the other two will receive consideration someday. It’s fair to say all four of them owed much of their success to Matthews.
In a radio interview Wednesday afternoon, Matthews said the Oilers’ move to Tennessee was one of the best things that ever happened to him, both personally and professionally. He and his family returned to Houston after his retirement in 2002.