The streets and highways of Dallas were frozen Tuesday, which was only fitting given the way Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews’ week has gone so far. But Matthews wouldn’t let his close loss of the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award the previous evening ice over his spirits at Super Bowl XLV Media Day at Cowboys Stadium.
He’s got a date Sunday with big Ben Roethlisberger, whom Matthews sacked twice the last time the Packers and Steelers met in 2009. The disappointment of watching Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu take the coveted award by two first-place votes — some confused initial reporting had the Packers’ pass rusher winning — was quickly forgotten.
“It was comical,” said Matthews, who finished the season with 13 ½ sacks, the league’s fourth-highest total. “I had about 15 texts saying congratulations, and then a few minutes later I had about 15 texts saying, ‘Too bad, you lost.’”
The most electric of Green Bay’s front seven told some of the 5,000 legitimate reporters, entertainment show interviewers, and outright nut-cases who crowded his Media Day podium that he had a bigger accolade on his mind now.
“We’ve got an opportunity this Sunday to win a team award,” Matthews said.
That would be the Vince Lombardi Trophy, something his father — the great Cleveland linebacker Clay Matthews — and his Hall of Fame linebacker uncle Bruce Matthews never laid their hands on.
“I’ve had to work my way out of the shadow of my father and family,” Matthews said. “But it’s a good shadow to be in. If I can have half the career they did, I’ll be doing good.”
If the Packers win Sunday, he’ll already be one step ahead of them. And dropping Roethlisberger a time or two wouldn’t hurt, either.