things don't always turn out the way they're supposed to.
Back in Sacramento during the 1970s, no one would have figured Trevor
Matich for a pro-football prospect. He was, by his own admission, an
underwhelming physical specimen, "cut from every team that had
Then came a growth spurt in high school, and his body caught up to his
work habits. Almost overnight Matich became a heavily recruited
high-school center, then a four-year player at Brigham Young--both Steve
Young and Jim McMahon stood behind him--then a leader of the school's
national-championship team in 1984. When he was drafted by the New
England Patriots in the first round, Matich assumed he had found his niche
for the next ten years or so.
It didn't play out that way. In his first NFL game, Matich hurt
his ankle and missed the rest of the season. The next year other
linemen got hurt, and he was asked to fill in at their positions.
He never stayed long at any one position, but Matich parlayed his
versatility into good money as he moved from the Patriots to the Lions to
the Jets to the Colts and then to the Redskins.
Along the way he developed a specialty: He became known as a good
blind long snapper, meaning he could snap a hike to a punter without
looking back through his legs. It gave his teams an extra blocker;
it gave Matich a quirky kind of status.
Which fits, because Matich is not your basic narrow-band-width
jock. He flies planes, he's involved in the interactive-TV business,
and he's as likely to debate Hitler's mistakes in the Battle of Britain as
discuss zone blitzes.
When he announced earlier this summer that he would be leaving the
Redskins to become a color analyst for Fox NFL broadcasts, Washington
Post sportswriter Tony Kornheiser began moaning that he had lost his
last good interview guy in the Redskins locker room.
Matich sat down with writer Randy Rieland to get in a few last words
about the Redskins.
got into a car accident about seven years ago. I was driving
a little sports car about 40 miles per hour, and a full-sized pickup going
me head-on. I didn't have time to get my foot from the gas to the
brake. And I didn't even get a sore neck. It was like a good
One time I was covering a punt and the return man broke free so I had
to throw all caution to the wind and go after him. And sure enough,
one of their linebackers lined me up and just drilled me. When you
play long enough in the NFL you're going to nail people and you're going
to get nailed. This time I got nailed.
I was dazed. I got up, went to the sidelines, kind of shook it
off, and went back in. When I saw it on film the next day and saw
how hard that guy hit me...well, if some ordinary accountant got hit like
that, he'd be in traction for six months. We're trained to get used
People understand pain, but it's hard for people to relate to the kind
of collisions you have every day in practice. In a game, the
violence is extreme. And it has a cumulative effect. With the
exception of the third quarterback and maybe the kicker, everyone is
playing with injuries by the end of the year.
It's not black and white
You have to be an extraordinary kind of moron to be a racist in the
NFL. It's the ultimate meritocracy. Every advancement is based
on performance...and that is all.
You go through that NFL season next to a guy who you know is also
playing in pain. Last year you had Bob Dahl playing on a bad knee
next to Ed Simmons playing on a bad knee--both of them had surgery in the
off-season--but each one was going to stay in and do it for the
other. It doesn't matter if a guy's black or white. You look
at the effort exerted and the pain endured, and your humanity rises above
any differences in physical characteristics.
If anyone holds any racist thoughts out there, they keep them to themselves. That would tear apart a team faster than any
thing. On the Redskins, veteran leaders like Darrell Green and Ken
Harvey won't allow it to happen.
Matich gets taped before a game at RFK Stadium by head trainer Bubba
Tyer. "I always had him tape my left ankle first," Matich
says. Superstitious? "Nah, I think it's bad luck to be
Let's all sing
Some guys can gear up for Sunday and then gear back down again.
But some guys can't turn the aggression off. They're hostile all the
I know some guys who are so competitive, it ruins their week if someone
beats them to a parking spot at the mall.
But then, you'd be amazed at how gentle some of these 325-pound guys
are off the field with their kids. One time I was in the car with
John Gesek, Jim Lachey, and Mark Schlereth. They all have kids.
The talk turned to a Disney movie. One of them started singing a
song from it, and the other two chimed in, so all three were singing in
unison. I shot them a sideways glance, and when they finished one of
them looked at me and said, "When you have kids, you'll
know." It was funny to see almost a thousand pounds of vicious
offensive linemen singing "A Whole New World."
When Refrigerators get mad
On the field I'd love it when some guy I was playing against was
overaggressive. When you're overaggressive you're not thinking about
what you're doing. Many NFL football players don't quite understand that the
point of the game is not to run around and kill people. The point is
to know the object of each play, from your position, in a given situation,
and based on what you see across the line of scrimmage. You define
what success will be for you on this particular play and then go do it.
By keeping focused on that and using good technique, I've been able to
have success against players who were physically stronger than I was.
And they don't always like that.
One time we were playing against Philly, and we ran a play where I
blocked down on William "Refrigerator" Perry. We opened up
a gap that he was supposed to be filling, and the back ran for a ten-yard
Refrigerator was furious. He reached into my face mask and got
his hands over my face and his fingernails dug into my eyebrow. I
wanted to kill him.
So I decided, the next time we run this play, I'm going to chop his
knees. Later we called the play again, and right before we ran it, I
took another look at this guy. He weighed about 360 pounds. If
I chopped his knees, most likely he'd land on me and squash me flat. I
didn't go for his knees. Self-preservation has it's place.
Another time we were playing against Cleveland, and Michael Dean
Perry--Refrigerator's brother--was the defensive tackle across from me. I
got into my stance for the first offensive play, and this foul,
odoriferous cloud wafted across the line. I looked up, and this guy
started breathing on me. He must have had garlic and Limburger
cheese for his pre-game meal. If he wanted to annoy the offensive
line with that, he succeeded. It was nasty. I don't think his
own team let him in their huddle.
The life of a long snapper
To make the snap for a field goal or extra point--and for that I'd need
to look between my legs because the holder might be set off to one
side--I'd have a 320-pound defensive tackle six inches away from the back
of my neck. As soon as I twitched he would drill me as hard as he
could. In the meantime, I'd have a bunch of people falling behind my
legs and other people coming over the top. The best way to describe
it is that it's like a hockey game and you're the puck. I've never
seen the holder catch my snap. As soon as I snap the ball I see sky,
ground, sky, ground...darkness.
After snapping the ball
to punter Matt Turk, Matich holds up a Cowboy. His ability to make
the snap "blind"--that is, without looking through his
legs--made him a better blocker.
"He's barking at me"
One time I had a nose guard bark like a dog at me. What do I
do--run off the field in terror and say, "Coach, he's barking at me!"?
But mostly it's the little guys do the talking. Because when you're
talking you're not breathing, and the big guys want to breathe.
You see a lot of wide receivers jawboning with cornerbacks.
During one game last year--I won't say the players and I won't say the
teams--I will guarantee you that one particular conversation on the field had
nothing to do with football. It had to do with guilty pleas and
controlled substances. That's a defensive player trying to throw
off an offensive player's focus. If you're thinking about what
they're saying, you're not thinking about what you have to do.
In the huddle, the only guy who should be talking is the
quarterback. The worst thing you can have is guys arguing. You lose focus instantly.
But there have been fights in huddles. One time a running back
jumped in this offensive lineman's face and was chewing him out. The
quarterback's trying to call the play while the running back's chewing out
his lineman. That's not supposed to happen. That's when the
quarterback needs to play sheriff. But the
quarterback can't be grabbing the running back or doing anything
physical. You're on national television--you have to be aware that
you'd end up on the Sunday night highlights smacking around your own guy
in the huddle.
A touch of class
One of the classiest things I have heard on the field happened when I was
playing for Indianapolis. We were playing Buffalo, and I was at left tackle because our starter
there was injured. Most of the time, I was
going up against Bruce Smith, and I was doing the best I could.
This one series, it was second down and forever, and Pro Bowl
linebacker Cornelius Bennett
came over lickin' his chops, thinking, "I've got the long snapper
over here." And he said to me, "I'm going to blow right by
I didn't say a word. I got into my stance, took a
great set, used great technique, and stoned him.
He came back out for the next play. Didn't say a word. He
just glared at me. In his stance, he started digging his back foot
into the turf, like they did in the Ice Bowl in Green Bay years ago.
I thought that was a bit odd, because we were in a dome, playing on
artificial turf. But what do I know... I took my set and blocked him again. And he
patted me on the back and said, "Nice job." I thought that
was a classy thing for him to do, very professional and gracious of him to
give a long snapper his due.
What happens in the pileups
Guys actually look out for each other. If you're lying on
somebody's knee, you'll usually try to take some of the pressure off.
But when the ball is on the ground, it's a different world.
Understand that one fumble recovery
can mean the difference between winning and losing, and one game can mean
the difference between making the playoffs and staying home. So
foul deeds are perpetrated at the bottom of a fumble pile.
If you recover a fumble, you want to make sure to squeeze your fingers
against the ball as hard as you can. The first thing the bad guys
will try to do is
grab a finger. And they'll give you just an instant to decide which
is more important to you: keeping the ball or avoiding a nasty
I haven't got time for the
For the last three years of my career I couldn't straighten my right
elbow past 40 degrees. I couldn't button my shirt or comb my
hair. Last year in September I tore two inches of tendon off my
shoulder bone. I couldn't lift my left arm. Fortunately the
snapping motion is straight back and forth and doesn't involve a lot of
rotation. So I was able to play the rest of the year, but with two
inches of rotator cuff tendon pulled away from the bone..
Most of the season I was able to sleep only an hour at a time.
Then the pain in my shoulder would wake me up. The pain was so
intense, it would take five to ten minutes to get my arm into another
position so I could fall asleep for another hour.
The good news for me is that I didn't have to walk on my
shoulder. Ed Simmons was playing on a knee that he could barely walk
on. You'd see him standing on one leg all the time because he
couldn't put weight on his bad knee. But he was able to play.
How? I have no idea.
Why we love grass
People think of artificial-turf injuries as turf toe or twisted knees,
twisted ankles. But the real artificial-turf injuries have to do
with the fact that you can run faster. And that speed means more
injuries. Remember when Dennis Byrd was paralyzed when he hurt his
neck? That was an artificial-turf injury. People say,
"Why? He just ran into a guy." Yeah, but he came around
the corner, his center of gravity low to the ground, his feet way off to
the side, and going full speed. Because of the artificial turf he
had the traction to go as fast as he could go. If that had been on
grass he would have spun out, fallen to the ground, and been around to run
the next play.
Trevor Matich checks
out the opposition before a home game. The neoprene sleeve above
his right elbow protects an injury that prevented him from straightening
One day nothing hurts
You come to a point in the off-season when nothing hurts. And on
that day it feels odd; it's bizarre to feel that good. It is a
monumental struggle to get through an NFL season. You are taxed
physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally...
The best day of an NFL year is the day after your last game. You
wake up and you don't have to go anywhere. No one is going to
videotape every step you take and evaluate it in darkened rooms. No
one's going to hit you in the head. Every year on that day I was
always surprised by what a relief it was. It's like being out in the
woods for six months and then standing under a hot, gushing shower.
One block or tackle might have
put us in the playoffs
It's an extraordinary effort to get through a whole year. You've
got all the wind sprints and weight training starting in February.
You go through training camp, which is its own special kind of hell.
You go through the season, guys playing hurt and needing surgery.
And after all that, when you miss the playoffs by a tiebreaker, it's heartbreaking.
There are more than 2,000 individual plays over the course of a
season. Last year was decided by 12. If the outcome of any one
of those 12 plays had been reversed, we would have gone to the
playoffs. That's how close it was. The problem is you never
know when those 12 will happen.
Norv Turner talks about that a lot. He's always saying how you
never know when the critical plays will happen, so you can never lose your
focus. Norv is also very big on details, things like blocks by the
receivers away from the running back. That block might be the thing
that springs a guy for a touchdown instead of a six-yard gain. Norv
is the kind of coach who will put you in the best position to win if you
do what he says.
A team is like a watch. There are big gears and little gears. The big gears get all the publicity. But the big gears
need those little gears.
It's like Brian Mitchell with his returns. People talk about a
great runback and great blocking. Yeah, it's great blocking, but a
lot of people don't understand why it's great blocking. On a
kick return it's hard to sustain a block for a long time. So if you
block somebody too early, he has time to shed you and make the tackle. But
if everything is timed so that the returner gets there just after each
player throws his block, he'll score a touchdown. The object of the
blocker is not just to block his guy. It's to block his guy at the right
time on the right yard marker. If everyone blocks in the right way
and at the right time, then Brian Mitchell can do the rest. It's big
gears and little gears executing small details, and if the little gears aren't doing it, the big
gears might as well go home.
The story of Gus and Heath
I think Heath Shuler is going to be a good quarterback in this
league. But he was behind when he came in with the Redskins because
of the system he played at college. At Tennessee, Heath was asked to
be an athlete. At Tulsa, Gus Frerotte was asked more to read
defenses and make checkoffs.
A quarterback's first job is not to throw the ball, but to know where
to throw it. The second part of the job is knowing when to throw it,
because most pass routes only come open for a short time.
Gus has a knack for making the reads and putting the ball in the right
place. He has poise that you can't teach to a young player.
After the first game he started, against Indianapolis, what amazed the
offensive linemen the next day when we watched the films was how he stood
in the pocket while blitzers flew by him and defensive linemen on the
ground were swatting at his legs. He kept looking down the field
with his feet set to deliver the ball.
Plus, his nickname isn't Sniper for nothing. If you need a
quarterback who can throw the ball 65 yards in the air and hit a running
squirrel over either shoulder, Gus is your man. We all saw that
early on. The guys respected Gus in the huddle. Gus is a good
man with a good heart, but he is extraordinarily competitive. He
doesn't wear it on his sleeve, but you look him in the eye and you can
Heath was behind on all those things. Had he not been injured he
would have had a chance to catch up. But he didn't get that
Gus knew that he was playing better than Heath, and he wanted to be the
starter. He could have gone to the press to make his case. He
could have been hostile toward Heath in the locker room. He could
have tried to marshal support among other players, to get them in his
corner. He did what was in his best interest: keep quiet,
learn as much as he could, take the high road on everything. Even if
he were a selfish person, the best thing he could have done for himself
was to do what was in the best interest of the team, to make himself so
valuable that they'd have to pay him well.
That's one thing some players don't understand. How do you get
the big contract? By holding out? Sometimes you have to hold out,
but you really get the big money by making yourself so valuable to the
team that they never want to let you go.
Players and loyalty
Everything comes with a cost. Sure, players make a lot of money. So what? It's
supply and demand. There's a certain amount of revenue that's
generated by the game. The players deserve their portion of
People need to understand that there are two sides to this game--the
football side and the business side, which is as hardcore and cutthroat as
the toothpaste business or the tire business or the movie business.
There's no difference. And when people place an emotional value on a
business decision, they're not getting the whole picture.
Free agency exists for owners as well as for players. At some point owners considering a franchise move have to quantify the
monetary value of fan loyalty.
That sounds heartless, and it sounds
cold, but it's no more heartless or cold than quantifying the monetary
value of a player who's been around a long time, has played hurt for you,
has forever given up a part of his health for you. If someone in a
dark room thinks he
can't help the team any more, he's gone. Thank you very much. Here's an
apple, a bus ticket, and we wish you well.
It's not personal. You could be a puppy at a puppy show, you
could be a racehorse on the track, you could be the largest tomato at the
county fair, you could be a professional football player. You are a
commodity. That's reality.
Matich and his
teammates display mixed emotions in the locker room after beating the
Cowboys--yet missing the playoffs--in the season-ender last year.
It was the last game played at RFK, and Matich's last game in the NFL.
Why some athletes get into
Many athletes, as they grow up, tend to learn to base their self-worth
on their performance on the field. When they've performed well,
they've gotten accolades. When they haven't performed well, people
turned the other way. So they mingle their sense of personal value
with their performance. And whey that performance is called into question in the
media, it hits home...hard. Public criticism can have a
disproportionate effect on athletes.
Another problem you have with athletes today is that a lot of them were
able to get away with irresponsible behavior as youngsters because they were good
athletes. Consequences were swept under the rug. A lot of guys
have never learned to discipline themselves. It's either been
external discipline--enough to keep them playing well or academically eligible--or no
discipline at all. So when confronted with choices of right and
wrong, they don't learn how to make a decision when the
consequences of mistakes are small. Then, when they get into the big time, when
the white-hot spotlight is on, the consequences are potentially life
changing. If they've never learned to understand consequences as
kids when those consequences were small, then they are in danger. And that's where you get guys getting involved with
drugs and other abuses.
I've been asked if it's hard to follow moral values in the NFL.
And the answer is, well, of course it is. What's out there is not just
available to you, it's thrown at you; it forces its way under your door
and into your house. But at some point you have to ask
yourself: Which is harder, doing the right thing the first time, or
seeing what you can get away with?
Most married NFL guys I know are faithful to their wives. Others,
when they're on the road, take advantage of whatever opportunities for
companionship that become available. At first glance, you may
figure, who's going to know? But if you really want to know which is
easier, ask Magic Johnson, who contracted AIDS, apparently while being
unfaithful to his wife. Is it easier to use steroids and growth
hormones and amphetamines to enhance your performance? Or is it
easier to do it the long way? Ask Lyle Alzado, the former Raider Pro
Bowler who died from steroid abuse.
Women in the hotel room
I remember an incident with a team I used to play for. We had lost
several games in a row, and we were on the road.. Our curfew at the
hotel was 11 o'clock the night before. Nobody comes into your room
besides teammates and coaches. Not your brother, not your mom.
This night, at around two in the morning, the head coach was wandering
the halls because he couldn't sleep. All of a sudden he hears down
at the end of the hall these two giggly women coming out of one of the
"Good-bye guys, hee-hee. Good luck tomorrow." They
went down the stairs at the end of the hall, and
the coach didn't see which room they came out of.
He didn't say anything the next day. We lost the game, we flew
back home. At the Monday meeting, he tore into us. And
then he said, "I'm gonna find out which two guys had those girls in
their room. If you come to me and confess before I find out, I'll
fine you. If you don't, I'll cut you."
Later that afternoon five separate pairs of guys came to him to confess
that they were the ones. They didn't know if the girls they were
with were the ones he saw, but they didn't want to take the chance and get
It's amazing when you go home
and see it on TV
You watch so much football on tape during the week that watching a
football game for pleasure is kind of like the postman going for a long
walk after work.
If a friend of mine is playing or it's an upcoming opponent, I'll
probably pay more attention. The only other reason to watch is to
scope out other
players at your position. You're competing with those guys for jobs.
One thing that always amazes me when I watch football on
television: I'll see a play occur and there's this frenetic violent
activity, and then it instantly stops. You'll see a ball carrier run
through the line with people flying around, he gets drilled, he goes
down, and the instant he hits the ground, people are just walking.
It goes from 100 percent to STOP. When you're playing, it's just
natural. The play's over, you stop. But the speed at which
that happens amazes me when I see it on TV.
It also amazes me to watch the highlights on Sunday nights. When
you're playing, you're focused on the task at hand. There's a bad
guy across the line and he's gross and he wants to kill you; that's your
world. Then that night you go home and you see all these amazing
things that you've done, in slow motion and set to music. And it
sure looks different to you than when it happened.
Don't watch the ball
Things will happen for reasons that a lot of people don't see. I
remember a Dallas vs. Philly game last year. Troy Aikman
threw a pass near the goal line, and the receiver, Michael Irvin, was well
covered, with no chance of catching it. You wonder why on earth
Aikman would throw the ball.
But on the replay you see that early in the pass route the defensive
back grabbed Irvin's jersey, pulled it away from his body, then let it
go. The ref was watching it, but it wasn't very flagrant and if
Aikman doesn't throw the ball, the ref doesn't throw the flag. But
when Aikman threw the pass, the ref needed to call holding because that
may have been why the receiver didn't get open. Aikman saw all this,
and that's why he threw it. There are things like this that go on
all the time--thought processes--and if you haven't played the game, you
may not notice them.
If you want to know what's happening in the football game, don't watch
the ball. Watch the center. The play starts there. And
you want to watch the left tackle. Other than the quarterback, he's
the most important player on the offense. If the left tackle isn't
doing his job, the quarterback is going to get killed. The best
thing a left tackle can do is never have his name called.
The quarterback does something great, everybody knows it.
Receiver does something great, everybody knows it. Left tackle does
something great, he makes an outstanding blitz pickup, nobody knows.
If a long snapper is perfect all year long, you'll never know it.
The fun of hating the Cowboys
It's easy to hate the Cowboys when you're a Redskin. I
respect the Cowboys. I respect their success. But you know
what? As a Redskin, I abhor the Cowboys. I love abhorring the
Cowboys. I hate their pets.
This kind of rivalry is part of the fun of the game. When you
beat those guys, it's spectacular. When you lose, it's worse than
any other loss. Part of the fun of the game is the Redskins hating
the Cowboys. Part of the fun of the game is to hate the Eagles,
although that might be more universal...
The first time I played in Texas Stadium was as a Redskin, and it was
awesome because of my respect for the tradition that was built in that
house. And then you get down to business, and the business is to
beat the tar out of those guys.
During pre-game at Texas Stadium they play music --Madonna, Rolling
Stones... But whenever a couple of Cowboys come out of the tunnel,
they stop the Top 40 music and play this Roman-gladiator fanfare. As
a Redskin I found that to be ridiculous. Of course, I think their popcorn
is ridiculous because it's Dallas popcorn. That's my job.
There is no better rivalry in the NFL than Cowboys-Redskins.
There may be no better on in pro sports. And to have been a part of
that is a thrill.
Why young players get thirsty
Football is a primitive activity, so it makes sense to balance the
machismo with something soft and lovely--cheerleaders.
During a game I don't pay any attention to them. A snarling,
320-pound guy is on the field wanting to knock me out --that's where my
focus would be. But there are times you do notice the cheerleaders.
Like the first time I played against the Raiders. Being a young
player, I came out of the locker room early for warm-ups, focused on the job I had to do.
As I came out of the tunnel, there stood the Raiderettes in two lines
like a gantlet. Now, understand that the Raiderettes were not chosen
for their dexterity. They were chosen for their aesthetic qualities,
and in that regard they succeeded brilliantly.
As I passed between them on the way to the field, it seemed like each
one looked me in the eye as if she wanted me to call her after the
game. By the time I reached the field, I had forgotten where I was
and why I was wearing such a silly outfit. If their purpose was to
distract a young player, well, they did.
If you are looking, you can usually see the cheerleaders when you go to
the back of the bench area to get a drink of water. It's amazing how
thirsty some young players get when we play in Oakland or Dallas.
Just a bunch of oversize
I will miss being with the guys more than anything else. We're
like a bunch of oversized 12-year-olds with more money than we can spend
and too much time on our hands. You have to have a thick skin, but
if you do, you can have a blast being in a locker room. People mess
with each other in ways that, if you did the same thing at IBM, you'd end up
in prison and sued for harassment.
The practical jokes go back and forth all the time. There was a
sequence of practical jokes when I played for the Jets. One guy
started it by putting baby powder in another guy's helmet. Guy put
on his helmet and gets powder all over him. Very funny.
That night the guy with the powdered helmet took a 24-can case of
Gatorade, tore open an end of it, and put it up in the top of the other
guy's locker, tilted up and leaning against the door. So the next
day the guy opens up his locker and out come 24 cans of Gatorade.
So the locker guy goes and grabs the other guy's helmet and throws it
in the bottom of the Jacuzzi. The helmet guy, in order not to be
late for practice, has to dive to the bottom of the Jacuzzi with his
uniform on to get his helmet. Very funny.
The next day that guy grabs the other guy's car keys, goes back into
the training room, and makes a softball-sized solid cast with the keys in
the middle of it. The next day the the guy whose keys were taken
goes to the Army-Navy store and gets a military smoke bomb and wires it
under the other guy's truck. After practice the guy goes out to his
truck, starts to pull away, the pin pulls out, and there's military smoke
everywhere. The guy jumps out of his truck and sets a new land-speed
record getting out of there.
To retaliate, he planned to get a tow truck to take the tires off the
other guy's car, put it up on blocks, and stack all four tires in the
other guy's locker. He ended up not doing it because it would cost
money on both ends.
Sometimes guys don't always respond so well. Two years ago
training camp was dead. It was dull, nothing going on. So
there was this defensive lineman who had one of the worst bodies you've
ever seen. And he did something to annoy one of our offensive
Just for fun, I took that Vanity Fair cover photo of Demi Moore
when she was naked and pregnant and I put this guy's head on it with my
computer. All the other offensive linemen were howling with
laughter; they wanted me to put it up in the locker room.
But I went to this guy first and asked him, "Are you a good
sport?" He said, "Yeah, I'm a great sport."
Turns out he was lying.
I said, "This isn't personal, it was just funny. I just
chose you at random" (although I really hadn't--the poor guy truly
had a horrible looking body.) "Would you mind if I put this
He said, "Okay, let's see it."
So I showed it to him. He looked at me like he was about to punch
me out. I said, "I'll take that as a no."
The only opponent I've ever been awed by is Reggie White. I had
no idea how I was going to block him. Not only was he exceptionally
quick, he also had the strength to pick you up, carry you up the the third
deck, put you in a hot-dog bun, and eat you alive.
After the last
bittersweet victory against the Cowboys, Matich gets a final hug from
offensive-line coach Jim Hanifan. Behind him is wide receiver Henry
The end of the road
When I came into the league, I may have been the most clueless rookie
that's ever been--I was oblivious. Then a few years go by and some
guys that you came in with are gone, and you start to realize that this
NFL thing is
a pretty good deal. Then a few more years go by and you begin to
really appreciate where you are and the opportunity you've had. A
few more years and you cherish every moment.
For the last several years I have cherished every moment. I've
taken time out before and after every game to just watch my teammates, to
see little things that they do in the locker room and out on the
field. I'd go out on the field early and stay out late and just take
in the scene. Because playing 12 years in the NFL is a blessing
beyond anything I deserve. With every guy it's different, but
by the end, most of them are thankful for every day.
The thing I'll miss most is game day. You're out there in front
of 70,000 people; you're one of the best in the world at what you do and
you know it. And you're competing with the best in the world.
I'll always strive for ways to duplicate that.