Shortly after arriving in New England, Matich realized he’d been drafted to eventually replace a grizzled old veteran with bad knees named Pete Brock, who was well-liked on the team.
“I was not accepted by some guys — they had chosen sides. I tried to be better so they would like me but it didn’t help me fit in,” Matich said. “In college, we’re all about winning for the team and it’s great. But you get up there in the NFL and it’s a hard-core, cutthroat business.”
Matich finally realized he had to stand up for himself. If someone gave him an extra shove or unkind word at the end of a play, he didn’t back down. Eventually, he earned their respect.
“I fought every day in my second training camp. If they gave me that push, it was on, right now,” he said. “If they respect you, they will like you better, too. Stand up for who you are. When I learned to be me things really turned around and my play got better as well.”
After four seasons with the Patriots, Matich went on to play for the Detroit Lions, the New York Jets, the Indianapolis Colts and the Washington Redskins. He developed a reputation as a hard worker and learned to play various positions along the offensive line. He even caught three passes, including a touchdown, for the Jets. He also innovated the deep snapper position by figuring out how to fire the ball between his legs to the punter or holder without looking back, which meant the line had an extra blocker.
“I’m very proud of what I did in my NFL career,” Matich said.
Matich’s personable nature, along with an ability to deliver a quote or tell a story, pulled him into radio and television broadcasting. When he retired from football, he received an offer from Fox. He did some NFL and college football before moving to CBS for a year.
He was doing Redskins pre- and postgame shows when he began roasting then-Washington coach Steve Spurrier, which the coach didn’t like but made for good radio, Matich said.
With the experience he had gained, the former lineman felt ready to submit an audition tape to ESPN, and he had a plan. He drove nearly 330 miles — roughly six hours — to Bristol, Conn., where he shook hands with the man at the front gate and handed over his highlight tape.
“Instead of mailing it and having it sit in a box with 500 other tapes, I drove there for a 90-second meeting with the gatekeeper,” Matich said. “A few months later, I got a call. They didn’t have any room for the NFL, but they had room in college. I’ve been there for 10 years now and I love it. I’ve been blessed with little miracles.”
During the season, Matich is a regular on ESPN’s “College Football Live,” “SportsCenter” and “College Gameday” on ESPN Radio. On Sundays, he continues to do pre- and postgame with the Redskins. His mother watches him as often as she can.
“He has such a good sense of humor and he works so hard,” Carol said. “I’m so proud of him.”
During the off-season, Matich, who is single, estimates he travels 12,000 miles around the country at his own expense to visit college coaches when their media shield is down and picks their brains for unique insight and ideas. He is also willing to study eight hours of film in order to find two high-quality minutes of material for viewers.
“I like to drill down deeper, look at things from different angles,” Matich said. “Putting in that time and work shows up on the air.”
Anae, Matich’s former college teammate and current BYU offensive coordinator, is not surprised with his success.
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