Clay Matthews has never been closer to making the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
After seeing his chances end at the semifinal stage four times since 2012, Matthews is among 15 Modern-Era finalists for the Class of 2021.
Matthews and the rest of the group will be considered for induction when the Hall's Selection Committee meets virtually Jan. 19. Up to five of the finalists will be selected, and they must receive at least 80 percent of the vote from the committee's members.
Matthews is in his 20th year of eligibility to make the Hall of Fame, the most of any of this year's finalists. He's one of six first-time finalists and one of two, joining Ronde Barber, who have been eligible in the past but have not made it this far in the process.
Matthews, considered one of the league's best linebackers and most durable players, played in 278 games — the 17th most in NFL history — and amassed 1,561 tackles over that span. Matthews was a three-time All Pro and received four Pro Bowl nods. His brother, offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007 and his son, Clay III — a six-time Pro Bowler — could be in consideration in the years to come.
Matthews became the first player in team history to make the Ring of Honor without first being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was inducted during a halftime ceremony last season.
The Browns have placed 16 former players in the Hall of Fame, one of the highest totals of any team in league history. The late Mac Speedie will become the 17th when he's officially enshrined in August 2021, one year later than initially intended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Matthews will be honored during halftime of Cleveland's Week 3, Sunday Night Football matchup vs. Rams
2021 Modern-Era Finalists
DE Jared Allen
CB Ronde Barber
T Tony Boselli
S LeRoy Butler
G Alan Faneca
WR Torry Holt
WR Calvin Johnson
S John Lynch
QB Peyton Manning
LB Clay Matthews
LB Sam Mills
DL Richard Seymour
LB Zach Thomas
WR Reggie Wayne
DB Charles Woodson