Photo Cred: Evan Siegle/Green Bay Packers
By Mark Eckel, Player Engagement Insider
Clay Matthews, nominated for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, wants to win it for one major cause: CureDuchenne.
Matthews, the Green Bay Packers linebacker and nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award, has been involved with CureDuchenne since 2010. Duchenne, a form of muscular dystrophy, is a degenerative muscular disease that affects mostly young males.
“If I win to win the award I think the most important thing is it would bring attention to CureDuchenne,’’ Matthews said. “It would do a lot for helping find a cure and just giving these kids some hope.’’
In January, three of the 32 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominees will be selected as finalists for the award, and the winner will be announced in Minneapolis at the NFL Honors ceremony on February 3, the night before Super Bowl LII.
Matthews is the third consecutive Packers linebacker to be nominated for the award following Jayrone Elliott in 2016 and Sam Barrington in 2015. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was a finalist for the award in 2014.
For the rest of the season, a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year trophy silhouette will appear in uniform elements to recognize past award winners and current nominees. Matthews will wear a helmet decal through the end of this season.
Matthews first got involved with the CureDuchenne organization during the Packers 2010 run to the Super Bowl.
“I was really introduced to it by chance,’’ he said. “I filmed a PSA for them in 2010, because I was able to do it. We had a lot of success on our way to the Super Bowl and the commercial got a lot of play along the way.’’
The PSA brought more awareness to the disease and Matthews got more involved as he met boys and their families affected by it.
“That’s when it really struck home to me, this is something I was able to change people’s lives just by offering a voice,” Matthews said. “It truly became a passion for me, and now we’re at a point where they’re at human clinical trials with some of the drugs they have. They’re making progress year in and year out trying to cure this disease.
“Being a father to a young boy myself (Clay IV), it really hits home for me.’’
Matthews, during the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats’’ day wore cleats that were specially designed to raise awareness for CureDuchenne.
In that game, a 26-20 Green Bay win over Tampa Bay at Lambeau Field, Matthews recorded three sacks.
“That was pretty special,’’ Matthews said.
For the past seven years Matthews has been involved in several events for CureDuchenne and has regularly corresponded with boys stricken with Duchenne, and their families.
“Clay Matthews has become the hero to the boys who are stricken with Duchenne,” Debra Miller, the President and CEO of CureDuchenne told the Packers website. “As he battles on the field using his strength and physicality, he represents 300,000 Duchenne boys around the world who are battling to keep walking and breathing.”
Now, the Packers linebacker is hoping more attention can be paid to the cause through his nomination for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.
“It’s obviously not something I lobbied for or campaigned for,” Matthews said of his nomination. “To be one of the nominees, it means a great deal to me simply because when you look at the men who have won this award and when you see some of these guys and what they mean to their community, it’s a special honor.”