Over the offseason, thousands of fans voted in our "Team For the Ages" contest to construct the best imaginable 50-man roster from the NFL’s modern era, which began in 1967. The votes have been counted, and we’re unveiling one player each weekday between now and the kickoff of the 2018 NFL season.
The entire Team For the Ages roster will be unveiled at "Football Legends LIVE!" Sept. 8 in Crystal Lake, Ill. Tickets are on sale now: https://shawmediaevents.com/e/pfw50
Oilers/Titans OG Bruce Matthews
No one in any sport ever earned the name “Iron Man” more than Bruce Matthews. During a 19-year career that spanned three decades Matthews played in every game in 18 of those seasons. The only eight games Matthews ever missed were the result of a contract dispute at the beginning of the 1987 season.
They said it
On the weekend he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Matthews had a startling revelation: “I’ll be honest,” he said. “When I played, I didn’t really want to find out (how I measured up against a great defensive lineman). There was such a fear factor. I was afraid I was always going to get exposed for the fraud that I was.”
Fellow inductee Elvin Bethea, whose career with the Oilers overlapped Matthews’ had this reply at the induction ceremony: "He was far from a fraud," Bethea said. "Where he is today, he should be there."
His 14 Pro Bowls tied Merlin Olsen for the most in NFL history. Matthews started each of the final 229 games of his 296-game career – more than 14 straight seasons without missing a single start.
Did you know?
Matthews played at least one season at each of the five OL positions. He is considered one of the most versatile offensive linemen ever (99 starts at left guard, 67 at right guard, 87 at center, 22 at right tackle and 17 at left tackle). Wherever he lined up over a 19-year career, Matthews excelled.
Matthews did battle with the biggest and baddest players in the NFL for 19 years but he said fear was his motivation.
“That’s the thing that drives me,” he said. “The fear of getting beat. “It’s not so much throwing a great block that springs a guy for a touchdown. It’s more … don’t get beat for a sack, don’t be the guy who causes the running back to get blown up, don’t be the guy who makes the mental error that causes (QB) Steve (McNair) to get blindsided.”
On Jan. 6, 2002, Matthews started his 293rd and last game in the NFL. Only Brett Favre (298) has ever started more. It was also Matthews’ 229th consecutive start. He was 40 years old.