Being part of one of the first families of football has given Mike Matthews the chance to learn plenty of lessons.
But the perspective he gained last year gave him a chance to teach one to his Hall of Fame father.
The son of legendary offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, Mike is fighting for a chance to make the Steelers roster this year. He spent last fall out of football and selling shoulder pads, after being released by the Browns.
And his father Bruce told Max Bultman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about a recent conversation with his son that suggested that he’s in good shape, regardless.
“I still want to play, passionately, but I realize that this is a very small part of my life, even if it does go great,” Bruce said Mike told him. “It was kind of humbling to me, because I’m thinking, ‘Oh gosh. I should have said that to him instead of he to me.’ ”
If Mike is going to make it, it will be under the eye of someone the family knows well. Steelers line coach Mike Munchak played with Bruce on some great Oilers lines and hired him as an assistant when he was coaching the Titans, but won’t be cutting the kid of a friend any slack. Munchak has cut one of Matthews’ kids before (Kevin, in Tennessee), so that much is known.
“For me, it was weird to see that side of football,” Mike said. “Because my dad played 19 years, and it’s like, ‘You play until you don’t want to play any more,’ and that was what I thought.”
Mike has an outside shot to make the Steelers this year, working at guard as well as center. But whether he makes it or not, he’s learned that nothing is owed to him because of his family name, and that whatever happens will be a short chapter in his story.