An act of friendship that still resonates

PITTSBURGH -- Maurice Matthews has been a fixture at Pittsburgh Steelers’ headquarters for years, but he will also be pulling for one member of the Cleveland Browns to do well Sunday when Pittsburgh and Cleveland renew their fierce rivalry.

The reason? Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton took just $20 for the 1999 Mercedes-Benz SL that he sold Matthews in the spring of 2011.

The unorthodox transaction happened after Horton, a Steelers defensive backs coach from 2004-10, returned to Pittsburgh to finalize his move to Arizona where he had taken the job of Cardinals' defensive coordinator. Horton parked the red sports car in front of the Steelers’ practice facility, and chatted up Matthews and several others in the cafeteria.

He asked Matthews, an assistant chef, how much money he had on him, and when Matthews produced $20 Horton tossed him the keys to the car.

“Stop playing,” Matthews recalled telling Horton. “I’m not going to believe you until I see the paperwork.”

Horton used the car for the rest of the week and took care of the necessary paperwork. Matthews has owned it ever since he dropped Horton at Pittsburgh International Airport.

He said he has received more than a few offers for the car that is now in storage for the winter but added, “I’m not going to sell it. That’s a great gift that’s been given to me.”

Horton’s defense, which is No. 5 in the NFL in total yards allowed, probably won’t be as generous on Sunday. And Matthews made it clear where his loyalty lies in spite of what Horton gave him and the friendship that has continued between the two.

“I’m going to be hoping he does well,” Matthews said. “But, of course, the black and gold must prevail.”