Cards: Action Packed 1990, Topps 1988, SkyBox 1993
Acquired: In Person 1991, 1994. TTM, 2009. Houston Oilers Training Camp, Texans Blitz
One of the greatest linemen to play the game, Bruce Matthews is one of the most decorated linemen in NFL history. At 6’6″, 289 he is the perfect blend of speed and power to play the guard position. In fact over his career Matthews would play every position along the line, being named to the Pro Bowl at both center (5 times) and guard (9 times), playing in more games than any other player (outside of kicker and punter) with 296 games in three different decades. Named All Pro 9 times and selected to the NFL All Decade team of the 1990s, Matthews was originally a 1st round choice out of USC by the Houston Oilers. He, along with Mike Munchak would form the best guard combo perhaps in league history allowing the team to soar to new offensive heights, blocking primarily for the Oilers during the Warren Moon and Steve McNair eras. Matthews resented the move of the team from Houston to Tennessee due to the roots he had planted in the city, but played there through 2001 before retiring. He was named to the Hall of Fame in 2007 during his first year of eligiblity.
Bruce has remained fairly close to the sport since retiring. Ironically he had not suffered any notable injuries through out his long career- but has had knee problems since colliding with children while standing on the sidelines of one of his children’s pee wee games. He worked for the Houston Texans through the 2010 season but was hired to coach the offensive line for Mike Munchak in Tennessee beginning in 2011.
Action Packed made some nice cards, and with their second run in 1990, had great photos and a simple gold frame and an embossed card. It stands in contrast to the Topps submission, with an inglorious sideline shot of Matthews. This SkyBox 1993 Impact was a nice idea, but the Impact logo is just too big on the card. It also takes away from Bruce’s moving figure and his name in that pastel Oiler Hawaiian blue. The moving figure effect was probably created by a motion blur in the background, and is primitive yet effective.
The first time I met Bruce Matthews was back in 1988 or 1989. Josh and I didn’t have cards at the time and were outside waiting for the players. As Josh walked up to the door an player ran him over. Josh stumbled to his feet and it was none other than Bruce Matthews who clobbered him by accident. He apologized and gave us a hearty laugh and went back inside. Good times.