Q. Your given name is William Clay Matthews III. Why do you go by Clay?
A. I’m the III. My father’s name is William Clay Matthews, my grandfather is William Clay Matthews. They went with the middle name and that was kind of the hand I was dealt, but it seems to be a pretty good hand. He set me up with some big shoes to fill, but I enjoy it. It’s a fun name to have, it’s unique and it speaks for itself.
Q. You played in four straight Rose Bowls. Which is the most memorable?
A. The last one I played in, which was against Penn State. Obviously, as a senior, I was a starter at that point. In the years prior, I was getting playing time. As a senior, playing through the whole year and contributing to get to that game and winning it, as well, and having an impact in that game, that’s one that sticks out to me. For whatever reason, I still haven’t gotten my ring for that one. It must’ve gotten lost in the shuffle with the whole transition over there. I guess I haven’t asked for it. I upgraded to a much nicer ring this past year.
Q. You interned at the NFL Network. What did you do there?
A. Fortunately, I didn’t have to get them coffee or drinks. I just facilitated things around the office; helping them get ready each and every day for their live show; keeping them abreast of information around the league and searching through various news media, sports-related information to kind of help out the announcers with everything they need to know. It was something just to keep me busy during the summer. It was something that does pique my interest and potentially one day I could see myself being behind the camera, but for the time being I’ll focus on being in front of the camera.
Q. Do you miss the California weather?
A. Of course. Comparatively, the seasons are nice but right around the time it hits late November all the way to spring, it gets a little cold out here. I get the best of both worlds, heading back to California for the offseason and coming out here for football season. I can’t complain.
Q. What was it like growing up as the son of a famous football player?
A. I think a lot of people assume there was a lot of pressure put on me, a lot of great expectations, but I went through life like any normal kid with a father that worked Monday-Friday, as opposed to on Sunday. For me it just so happened that I wanted to be like my father and play football and fortunately that’s the way it turned out, but there are siblings in my family for whom football was not the ultimate career choice. If anything, my father put more pressure on me to succeed in whatever career path I chose than the outside world put on me being Clay Matthews’ son.
Q. Do you have your father’s personality?
A. I’d say in certain regards I do, and at times it’s a bit of my own.
Q. What did you learn from him having been an NFL player?
A. I think just growing up in the environment we had in our household, which was a football environment, yet, at the same time it was a business approach. It taught me to stay humble, stay grounded and I believe that’s why my transition to the NFL has been so seamless from college. I understood what I was getting myself into from day one, the expectations and pressures of being a professional athlete, being drafted as a first-rounder and what was expected of me. He helped me out managing the expectations on and off the field, so I think that’s why I’ve been able to handle everything that’s been thrown my way these past couple of years.
Q. Was he your favorite player?
A. Absolutely; I think that’s a no-brainer. Watching him, as well as my uncle, they’re my two favorite players and always will be.
Q. When did you decide to grow your hair long?
A. In college. It actually started out as a bet between me and a few linebackers at the time. Somehow I ended up with long hair and they ended up cutting theirs off, and it seems to be a trademark now of Clay Matthews. It’s kind of fun having it, representing that different approach.
Q. You walked on at USC. Did you have scholarship offers from other schools?
A. I really didn’t. I was undersized as a junior and didn’t start until my senior year. My dad was my defensive coordinator. I had a strong senior year and most of the interest I got was from junior colleges and Division I-AA. Being in proximity to USC, which was 45 minutes from where I grew up, my family history there and it being a top program at the time, I thought it would be a wise decision to walk on, which isn’t always the smart decision to walk on at the No. 1 university at the time. It all worked out. I wasn’t that good in high school. I wish I could say they messed up, but I just wasn’t that good in high school. I was a late bloomer, similar to my father. I followed in his footsteps in regards to how he developed as a football player. I was a day late and a dollar short, but it all worked out for the best. I grew four inches and put on 45 pounds in my senior year in high school. I went through a growth spurt and that obviously helped out. I just continued to get better as a football player. I watch film of myself from my senior year in high school thinking I was pretty good, and it’s funny to watch myself because I wasn’t that good, I wasn’t that explosive, but every year I moved forward into my collegiate career I continued to progress and get better and show signs of what could be a future NFL player.
Q. When did you invent the sack dance and what are the roots of it?
A. I’ve got to give my brother recognition here. He actually came up with it. I was having struggles with what I wanted to do, and being a big Arnold Schwarzenegger fan and “Predator” fan and of the epic showdown at the end, I should flex for the crowd and open my arms and represent that iconic showdown. That’s what it’s turned into and it’s got a pretty good following now. I have fun with it and it has a pretty good meaning to it, too, as far as hunting people down on the field. You’ve got commercials marketing it, so I guess I’m going to have to run with it for the next few years.
Q. Your coach, Kevin Greene, said he’s never seen a pass-rusher have more blockers dedicated to him than you have this season. Has it been frustrating?
A. Anytime you have more than one coming your way, it can get frustrating, but you have to understand that this game comes together like a chess match, and if they’re going to send two, sometimes three guys coming my way, it means we have one-on-one matchups in other parts of the field, and we understand that we have to be able to win those and, at the same time, we still have to be able to beat those double-teams and bring pressure. You look at the top pass-rushers in the league and it’s a constant battle to get to the quarterback, but you look at the offensive coordinators around the league and it’s a constant battle to neutralize that one key pass-rusher.
Q. What do you envision for the Packers in this postseason?
A. I think we all envision another Super Bowl run. That’s the reason you play this game and we’ve had some success so far, but that’s just given us an invitation to the playoffs. Now we have to show what we’re all about and continue the trend of success we’ve had. I can see us moving forward and winning this thing again.
Q. How about for the future? What do you think this team can accomplish?
A. Great things. If you look at the youth of this team, the talent we have, individuals playing collectively as a team, it’s something special. We’re going to continue to get better in the draft and free agency and retaining some of these guys with long-term contracts. Look at the key positions on this team and they look locked up for years to come. Provided that we continue to move forward and progress and play as we know how, I think the future is kind of endless for this team.