By Simon Evans
DALLAS (Reuters) - The Matthews family has over 40 years of NFL experience to their name, but on Sunday Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews can distinguish himself from the rest with a victory in the Super Bowl.
His grandfather played four years with the San Francisco 49ers and his father, Clay Jr., spent all but three seasons of his 19-year career with the Cleveland Browns and was selected to the Pro Bowl four times.
The only member of the Matthews family to play in a Super Bowl, until Sunday, is his uncle Bruce, who played in the title game in 1999 with the Tennessee Titans and lost to St. Louis.
Bruce made 296 appearances at outside lineman, a league record for the position, during a 19-year career with Houston and Tennessee that included 14 Pro Bowl selections.
But while many would presume the lack of a title will have left a sense of disappointment in the family, the long-haired Packers linebacker says that is not the case.
"In all honesty, they couldn't have cared less. That didn't determine their career. It doesn't determine people's careers, win or lose, despite what the media says," said Matthews.
"They had great careers for 19 years of play and the games, the years, the plays they made speak for themselves despite not making a Super Bowl or winning a Super Bowl.
"Hopefully, though, we can pull one off for the whole Matthews family. It'd be really exciting to bring one home."
Giving further proof that football runs in the family's blood is Matthews's younger brother Casey, a linebacker with the Oregon Ducks in college football, and Bruce's son Kevin Matthews, a rookie center with the Titans.
The Packers' Matthews acknowledges that he has benefited greatly from the football environment he was born into.
"Obviously, growing up in the family, surrounded by so much football knowledge and being around it for so long, it really helped me transition, especially in the college game," said Matthews. "It helped me transition to where I am today and the success I've had in my two years."
But the Packer, who struggled initially to establish himself in college football at the University of Southern California, said he also needed to create his own reputation and identity.
"Obviously, I was very privileged as a youth to have a father who played in the league and have such a family history and be blessed with all that I have been given in this life," said Matthews.
"I've had to work to kind of get out of the shadow of my family and I've been doing a good job of that. But, it's a good shadow to be in because they excelled in this league for many, many years. If I can have half the career they had, I'll be in good company."
(Reporting by Simon Evans in Dallas; Editing by Frank Pingue)