Whatever Happened To ... Trevor Matich: Done with hikes, he steps up to mikesBy Jim Van Vliet
Bee Staff Writer
(Published Aug. 5, 2001)
Growing up in Sacramento, Trevor Matich was the whole package -- small, slow and not particularly coordinated.
He was always the last one picked when his buddies wanted to play ball.
If he was chosen at all.
"I was cut from every team that had cuts," he says today. "In softball, nobody would pick me. The coach made a team take me. I was clueless when I was a kid. I made Howdy Doody look good. But it never dawned on me to quit."
Not bad for a guy who went on to a stellar 12-year NFL career and will debut this fall as CBS Sports' newest pro football analyst.
For Matich, the kid who couldn't chew gum and tie his shoes at the same time, it's been a long and exciting journey since graduating from Rio Americano High School in 1979.
After sprouting his last two years on American River Drive, he earned a scholarship to BYU, where as the starting center he helped the Cougars win the 1984 national championship.
He soared from a 204-pound beanpole into a 292-pound force and was a first-round draft pick of the New England Patriots in 1985.
And, if you expect him to brag, forget it.
"He who laughs last doesn't have to laugh at all," Matich says. "I always wanted to be a good athlete like my dad. But I wasn't. I remember when I was a freshman, when games were over, the coaches used to have a fifth quarter. It was for kids who were so bad they couldn't play in regular names. That's when I played.
"But I kept working, doing the drills, waiting for my body to catch up with my desire."
When it did, the world had to take a step back.
He earned All-NorCal honors in the only season he started at Rio, received 60 scholarship offers and ended up playing 12 seasons for the Patriots, Lions, Jets, Colts and Redskins before retiring four years ago.
"It was 12 years, and I loved every minute of it," he said. "I cherished every moment the last two years (1995-96) because I knew it was almost over. I was the last guy to leave every day just so I could look around."
He was a bright and versatile lineman, and while with the Jets he even caught a game-winning touchdown pass from Sacramento's Ken O'Brien as a tight end. The last few seasons, he revolutionized special-teams play with his ability to snap the ball without looking through his legs at the holder or punter.
An excellent interview subject and provocative thinker, he hosted "Inside Redskins" in Washington. Fox Sports' James Brown was so impressed, he pushed for Matich to audition. He ended up turning down an offer to play one more season in Washington to become an analyst for Fox's college and NFL broadcasts.
Well-read and well-spoken, Matich was a natural in front of a microphone. But he didn't hone his skills in the NFL.
He actually made his broadcast debut back in 1984, in a touching display of brotherly love that still lives today at Rio Americano.
It was Nov. 29, and Matich was in Provo preparing to meet Michigan in the Holiday Bowl. At home, his "little" brother, Dever, was playing in the annual Jack Scott Basketball Tournament, unaware that someone was slashing two of his tires in the Rio parking lot.
Dever, a 6-foot-5 center, jumped out to the high post with the ball over his head. He faked a two-hand pass and the defender went for the ball, driving his fingers into both of Matich's eyes. He went to the floor, bleeding from both eyes, both retinas partially torn.
Doctors feared he'd be blinded for life. When Trevor heard the news -- from a Sports Illustrated reporter -- he drove 14 hours through a snowstorm to be there.
Two nights later, the Matich brothers showed up for the championship game against Burbank.
"He looked like Stevie Wonder with these dark glasses, hanging on to Trevor's arm," Raiders coach Al Manfredi said.
A communications major at BYU, Trevor ushered his brother to a seat behind the Rio bench and provided play-by-play of the title game.
"You can imagine the love shared by two brothers," Trevor says. "It's the one moment in my life I wouldn't trade for anything."
After undergoing laser surgery, Dever miraculously returned after missing just five games and led the Raiders to the state championship game. He now owns a lawn-care business in Nashville, where his wife is an aspiring singer-songwriter.
The 39-year-old Trevor, meanwhile, prepares for the big time this fall. He'll team with either Bill Macatee or Craig Bolerjack to broadcast nine NFL games this season.
"I'm the rookie, so I'm sure I won't get any of the big games," he said. "If the Raiders are 9-1 and they play somebody 0-10, you might see me. If not, I'll probably spend a lot of time this year in the Midwest."
The Bee's Jim Van Vliet can be reached at (916) 326-5582 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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