Clay Matthews is back in a familiar position as the Pro Football Hall Fame gets closer in its process to naming the class of 2021.
For the third straight year and fifth time since 2012, the former Browns linebacker is among the 25 modern-era semifinalists. The initial list of finalists went 130 deep.
The group of 25 will eventually be whittled down to 15 before the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee chooses anywhere from four to eight to be officially enshrined in August 2021.
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