Meet 'the most liked' Matthews

Gwyneth Matthews draws the adoration of her big, tough football-playing brothers and cousins. Twitter.com/@jakematthews70

Former NFL Pro Bowlers Bruce Matthews and brother Clay Matthews Jr. have 12 children between them, including nine sons. Four of the boys have followed their fathers into the NFL, including Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews III and Atlanta offensive tackle Jake Matthews.

Are any of the Matthews men not good at football?

"The only one on our side is Steven," Jake said. "He's the oldest -- and the smartest. He's studying to be a lawyer in Texas."

His mother, Carrie, added, "He's considered the genius of the family because he's smart enough not to play football."

The football destiny of Bruce and Carrie's two youngest boys -- Mike, a center at Texas A&M, and 14-year-old Luke -- has yet to be seen.

On Clay Jr.'s side, sons Brian and Kyle both played high school ball and Kyle also played at USC, but their football days are behind them. Today, Kyle sells commercial real estate in California, and Brian is involved in sales as well.

And then there is Gwyneth.

In early October, Jake tweeted out a photo of his 11-year-old sister sitting on the Falcons' locker room floor, a beatific smile on her face.

"In honor of Downs Syndrome Awareness Month, I give a shout out to my favorite Falcons fan, my beautiful sister," he wrote.

Within hours, Clay III snapped back, "She's a Packers fan!!"

Laughing, Carrie said, "I told you they were competitive."

Gwyneth has brought a measure of perspective to the Matthews family's many successes in the football arena.

"The biggest thing my dad told me when she was born," Jake said, "was all she wants to do is love and be loved. When you're in a room with her, she smiles and you smile, too. She's so innocent. She's been so good for our family."

Clay III got emotional talking about his cousin.

"People don't understand truly what a blessing it is to have someone in your life with special needs," he said. "From afar, it can seem like a burden. But you wouldn't believe the amount of unconditional love she gives. She's not influenced by the outside world; everything she does is based from good.

"She's the most liked of all the Matthewses because she's so easygoing. It humbles you. She's so pure."

Her mother, Carrie, didn't understand all of that when Gwyneth was born.

"It was like 'God, don't pick on me,'" Carrie said. "But Gwynie didn't come here to be a burden; she came to free me from my burdens. I never felt like my life was not prioritized, but, believe me, there's always more to learn.

"It blows my mind how kind and accepting and loving and enveloping these girls she goes to school with are. She speaks some, but she's not really verbal. But it's amazing how much someone who doesn't communicate with the spoken word can teach you."