Playing for the Green Bay Packers is one of the most prestigious honors in all of sports. And this is not just a biased statement from a lifelong fan, it is something that former players have reiterated time and time again. Playing for a franchise as storied as the Packers is a life-changing achievement, one that very few take lightly.
Due to this history, it is an even rarer honor to be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame. Each year, two players are chosen for induction. In 2023, two offensive players, wide receiver Jordy Nelson and offensive lineman Josh Sitton, were inducted for their contributions to the Packers’ competitive teams in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s.
In 2024, it will be two defensive players who will receive the honor of induction: linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive end Aaron Kampman. The Packers Hall of Fame broke the news on social media on Monday afternoon:
Congratulations to the 2024 @PackersHOF class:
— Packers Hall of Fame (@PackersHOF) November 13, 2023
Clay Matthews and Aaron Kampman Deserve to Be in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame
Given how long the history of the Packers dates back, it may be surprising to some that the two players being elected to the team’s Hall of Fame in 2024 are two of the franchise’s top-10 leaders in sacks. While Kampman did not have as high-profile a career as Matthews, his contributions to the late Brett Favre teams that won multiple NFC North division titles and played in NFC Championship games cannot go unnoticed.
Indeed, two of the best pass rushers in team history are taking their place where they rightfully belong.
The NFL did not start counting sacks until 1982. If they had done so, Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Davis would be the Packers’ all-time sacks leader (99.5 unofficially). Since sacks before 1982 are not official stats, the “official” all-time sacks leader in Green Bay is Clay Matthews.
During his time with the Packers, which started in 2009 when they selected him with the 26th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft, Matthews accumulated 83.5 sacks. He got off to a fast start in his rookie season, logging 10.0 sacks while earning the first of six Pro Bowl nods and finishing third in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting.
2010, the year Green Bay won the Super Bowl, was arguably Matthews’ most memorable campaign. He finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting while racking up a career-high 13.5 sacks and earning his only First Team All-Pro selection.
Known for his enormous biceps and “Hulk” celebration, Matthews was an instant fan-favorite and a terror for opposing offenses. His decade in Green Bay saw him play on some of the most memorable Packers defenses in recent memory, and his place in the Packers Hall of Fame is undoubtedly well-earned.
Matthews last played in 2019, but he did not admit his playing days were over until 2022. In an interview with ESPN, he revealed that current Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry had reached out to him regarding returning to Green Bay to play in 2020. While he was interested in doing so, it does not seem like the front office was interested in making that happen.
Drafted by the Packers in the fifth round of the 2002 NFL Draft. Aaron Kampman is a great example of why it is important to be patient while young players develop. In his first two NFL seasons, Kampman logged just 2.5 total sacks and 53 total tackles.
In his third season, he played his first full 16-game season, starting every game and logging 4.5 sacks and 68 total tackles. He was even better in his fourth year before exploding in his fifth season.
From 2006-2007, Kampman had 27.5 sacks (15.5 in 2006 and 12.0 in 2007), earning two Second Team All-Pro nods and his two career Pro Bowl selections. Not even the great Reggie White had that many combined sacks in consecutive years in Green Bay (he did have 27.0 in 1997 and 1998).
Kampman had 9.5 sacks in 2008 before an injury limited him to just nine games (and 3.5 sacks) in 2009. Green Bay let him go after the season and he finished his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
According to an article by the NFL Players’ Association, Kampman now runs a leadership development company called Align.