Once again, the Hall of Fame electors decided that Clay Matthews Jr., the Swiss army knife of a linebacker for the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons, was unworthy of a spot in Canton. The odds were already stacked against Matthews. First, he was in his 20th and final year of eligibility. Typically, if the voters are going to elect a player, they would do so much earlier in a player’s 20-year window of eligibility (Note: this window of eligibility refers to those in the Modern Era, i.e., former players who have been retired for 5-25 years). Second, Matthews’s final year of eligibility coincided with the first year of eligibility of multiple surefire Hall of Famers, namely Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson and Calvin Johnson. With those three likely to be elected on their first ballot, there only remained two spots left for Modern-Era candidates in the 2021 class, as the Hall of Fame only allows for five new members from the Modern-Era per class. Clearly, this was a bridge too far for Matthews’s selection.
What’s next for Clay Matthews Jr.? Well, the waiting game continues. Matthews will now enter the pool of candidates that the Senior Committee will consider. This pool includes all former players who have been retired for at least 25 years. Obviously, this creates even more competition for selection. To compound that, only one Senior Candidate may be selected per class (provided that individual received at least 80% of the vote). With so many players waiting in the Senior pool, many of them quite deserving, it is unlikely that Matthews will enter the Hall through the Senior Committee anytime soon.
For now, Clay Matthews Jr. will have to settle for only being the only member of the Browns Ring of Honor who is not also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
What a shame.