Packers' Clay Matthews among NFL stars who owe their lives to first responders

Clay Matthews now wears a helmet for a living, but when he was a young boy, not wearing a helmet nearly cost him his life. 

When the Green Bay Packers linebacker was a child, an accident while riding his scooter left him unconscious, bloodied and at risk for serious brain swelling. 

"I went down a driveway and I must've hit a rock," Matthews told AOL.com. "I went right over the handlebars and unfortunately hit my face and head directly on the asphalt."

Matthews' mother had her hands full with him and his four siblings while their father was out of town during his own NFL career. She had told Matthews to wear a helmet, but he didn't listen. When she rushed to her son's aid, she found him so severely scraped up that his face looked "like it had gone through a meat grinder."

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A neighbor who worked as a pediatric nurse quickly ensured an ambulance was en route to the cul de sac where Matthews and his siblings grew up. Paramedics arrived both to whisk the future NFL star to the hospital and to keep his mother calm and fully informed. It was the speedy reaction by those first responders that Matthews says helped him get away with his life – especially when fears worsened at the hospital. 

"One of the things they were monitoring was the swelling in my brain," he said. "When that happens, they usually have to cut a piece of your skull out to relieve some of that pressure."

Fortunately, the swelling in young Matthews' brain didn't increase, and he was able to fully recover. Now, Matthews and his mother, alongside 11 other NFL players and coaches, are sharing their traumatic stories as "The Team That Wouldn't Be Here" without the aid of first responders. 


The Team That Wouldn't Be Here, via Verizon

Raiders quarterback AJ McCarron and Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn were among those to team up with Matthews and Verizon to bring attention to the first responders who saved their lives, from paramedics to firefighters or even natural disaster response teams. 

"When we need them at our most dire moments and in emergency situations, they're there for us," Matthews said. "They don't always receive the recognition they deserve."

Through the campaign, Verizon is also aiming to raise money for First Responders Outreach. For every use of the #AllOurThanks hashtag on Facebook or Twitter up until Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3, Verizon will donate $1 to the Gary Sinise Foundation.

Today, as a parent himself, Matthews says he's much more diligent about his kids wearing protective gear as they learn how to ride their own bicycles and scooters. 

"My wife gets on me all the time because if my son or daughter falls and scrapes their knee, I treat it like it's the end of the world," the six-time Pro Bowler said. "You don't have to sprain your wrist or break a bone or skin your knees if you're just being smart about it."

See more of Matthews throughout his career: 

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Clay Matthews throughout his NFL career
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Clay Matthews throughout his NFL career
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 16: Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) battles in action during an NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears on December 16, 2018 at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
IRVINE, CA - FEBRUARY 11: Clay Matthews Poses for a Portrait on February 11, 2009 in Irvine, California. (Football Pose) (Photo By Brand Affinity Technologies, Inc. via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25, 2009: Linebacker Clay Matthews Jr. #52 of the Green Bay Packers warms up prior to a game on October 25, 2009 against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Green Bay won 31-3. 09-07129052 (Photo by: Tom Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers LB Clay Matthews - December 6, 2010. Flex Defense - Packers LB Clay Matthews is turning nonstop energy into over-the-top production. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 09: Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers looks on against the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2011 NFC wild card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 9, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Packers defeated the Eagles 21 to 16. (Photo by Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 09: Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers flexes his muscles after sacking Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2011 NFC wild card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 9, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Packers defeated the Eagles 21 to 16. (Photo by Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews reacts after sacking Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder and causing a fumble during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 14, 2011, in Green Bay, Wis. The Vikings recovered the fumble. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews flips his hair after getting it wet before an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews (52) reacts after sacking Chicago Bears' Jay Cutler during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews is introduced before the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) and teammates sit on the bench during the closing minutes of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
21 DEC 2014: Packers linebacker Clay Matthews (52) attempts to get the attention of Buccaneers lineman Oniel Cousins (75) during the regular season game between the Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 3: Inside linebacker Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers walks out to the field prior to playing the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 3, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews sacks St. Louis Rams quarterback Nick Foles during the second half an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 24-10. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Houston Texans' Brock Osweiler scrambles to get away from Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews (52) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews celebrates a sack of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews acknowledges fans as he leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 35-14. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 16: Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) runs in action during an NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears on December 16, 2018 at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 23: Green Bay Packers Linebacker Clay Matthews (52) waits for the snap during the Green Bay Packers versus the New York Jets game on December 23, 2018, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 30: Green Bay Packers Linebacker Clay Matthews (52) looks back for a signal during a game between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on December 30, 2018 in Green Bay, WI. (Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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