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Green Bay Packer Clay Matthews Lives the Optimism Advantage

Watching this year’s Super Bowl was not too difficult for me; I have been a fan of both teams at times in my life. Although I knew it would be a close game, I had picked the Green Bay Packers to win. Why?

The Packers seemed to be this year’s team of destiny; they had consistently battled adversity and had to win away from home every week in the playoffs. It didn’t help that Pittsburgh’s quarterback was on wounded wheels with a rookie center starting for the first time. It was a great game, but the Lombardi Trophy is heading home to Green Bay!

But there is a back story worthy of note. One of the defensive Green Bay stars is a local boy who made good. I saw Packer linebacker Clay Matthews III play as an Agoura High Charger. Since we know that optimism is built through a history of overcoming obstacles, Clay is one late bloomer that has proved that over and over again throughout his career. As I wrote in The Optimism Advantage, attitude is everything in making the best of what you have.

Agoura High coach Charlie Wegher confessed that he had a hard time visualizing the current 6-3, 255-pound linebacker from the 5-5, 133-pound freshman that first came out for football. Wegher said in an interview with Rhiannon Potkey of the Ventura County Star, “I look at him now and I can’t believe that this is the same kid we had in the 9th grade. He always had the aptitude for the game and was always physical the whole time he was with us. But he wasn’t a regular until his senior season.”

Never one to set small goals, even though he was not recruited by USC, Clay decided to walk on and compete with a number of highly-recruited linebackers on scholarship. Reflecting back, Clay said, “It was always like someone was ahead of me, and when I finally got to play anywhere, It was like I had to look over my shoulder because somebody was coming to take my job. It had to make me a better player. What it taught me was patience when I had to sit, and determination when I got to play. I’ve kind of had to scratch and claw for everything to get where I’m at.”

It’s that history of clawing and scratching that resulted in him being picked 26th overall in the 2009 NFL draft. In his second season at Green Bay, he has been named the Butkus Award winner as pro football’s best linebacker and finished second behind fellow Trojan Troy Polamalu in voting for the AP’s Defensive Player of the Year. Now, he can add a Super Bowl victory to his individual honors.

But it is his attitude that speaks to the challenge we all face in playing the great game of life. He said, “If I’m not the swiftest, strongest, or fastest, it’s really what comes from within. That’s what determines how successful you are going to be. You don’t have to be the biggest, strongest or fastest. It’s your ‘want to.’ For the most part, if not all the time, I want to be great and be better than the person lined up in front of me.”

Every coach has seen that in his incessant training and his drive to stay in the game with every ounce of his being every minute he is on the field. Even though this is tough for this UCLA Bruin fan to say, it’s that attitude that makes Clay Mathews a winner! That same attitude can be yours. Claim your attitude advantage! Stay in the game to be the best you can be.

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