Clay Matthews leads the NFL in sacks, but that’s nothing compared to the ad blitz featuring Green Bay’s star outside linebacker.
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Even more than he’s hitting opposing quarterbacks entering the FOX America’s Game of the Week against Arizona (1 p.m. ET Sunday), Matthews is being featured in heavy rotation as a television pitchman for Verizon, Gillette and Fathead. The latter commercial portrays Matthews as an oblivious egoist surrounded by self-images in his “man cave.”
Is this self-deprecating humor, or has Matthews fallen in love with his public image, like Narcissus of ancient mythology? We asked Matthews that and more about life in the spotlight during this exclusive FOXSports.com question-and-answer session.
Q: You’ve become the defensive version of Peyton Manning with how many commercials are featuring you. Did you expect this entering the season?
Matthews: No, but you have to imagine that when you film a few commercials you’re going to have a little bit of air time. It doesn’t seem like you can turn the TV on without seeing consecutive commercials of myself, but it’s fun to see the reactions of my teammates, family members and friends. It’s created some good opportunities as well.
Ultimately, I think any time you can turn the TV on and see guys like myself, Aaron (Rodgers), Greg (Jennings) and Donald (Driver) — especially with this market being the smallest (in the NFL) — it’s a testament to the team, the fans and the marketability we have.
Q: What commercial gets the most reaction from those close to you?
Matthews: The Fathead one, surprisingly. I’ve done so much acting before in regards to running through walls and bullying people and blowing stuff up (in commercials) that Fathead was a nice change of pace. I got to show off my acting chops a little bit and a sense of humor in that. It was nice to get away from the traditional football role. They seem to really enjoy that because of the arrogance that I exude. It’s pretty comical to say the least.
Q: Do you think people are in on the joke when they see the Fathead commercial?
Matthews: I think 99 percent of the people are. But I’ve had people call me out for being arrogant and conceited and cocky. I don’t think they understand it, but I think you’re not going to win them all over.
Q: So this is not you in real life, right?
Matthews: No, it’s not me.
Q: How much were you concerned that people could misconstrue the Fathead commercial before you shot it?
Matthews: Fortunately now, I’m able to have some say and creative control. With this one, they read it by me. It’s hard to see it come to fruition when you’re looking at it on paper. But I felt like with my dry sense of humor and the way I can roll with this and play it off as being a natural, I thought we could run with it. I was a little skeptical at first, but once we started filming and they put it together in post-production, you could tell it was going to be a hit.
Q: I know you have a lot of charity involvement that you don’t play up publically. What is your next step image-wise that you want to take, and how much does that matter to you?
Matthews: “Image is very important in this business. You represent not only yourself but the organization, the coaches, the community, your family, your friends. When I put something out there of how I want people to view me, No. 1 is how I handle myself on the football field. I think that speaks for itself. But it’s really how you behave yourself outside the confines of the stadium that also define you.
For me, even though I like to remain out of the spotlight despite having the commercials and all the fun with that, it’s most important representing yourself in a positive manner. I think everybody tries to do that. Some are just a little more successful at it than others.
Q: How much has life changed for you since you’ve gotten this recognition?
Matthews: It definitely has changed from the days of just being a college undergrad. I can’t say I didn’t want this lifestyle. I know it can drive a lot of people to go insane, but this is fun. It’s an exciting lifestyle. Ultimately, there are things in your life that you do have to change and be a little more private with. But at the same time, it’s fun to walk down the street and have someone admire your work and let you know what a great job you’re doing.
Q: What is the end game for you? Do you want to get into acting when you’re done playing football?
Matthews: That’s not what I have in mind right now, but who knows right now where my path after football will take me? I know they say you should always have a backup plan right now. For me, it would probably be as a licensed contractor. That’s my honest answer if football didn’t work out. You’re hands-on. I’ve got a nice image of what I’d like to see in a project getting done. It would keep me busy. But ultimately if football works out and it continues the way it has, hopefully there will be some opportunities down the road, whether it’s in Hollywood or something else from playing this game.