San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews enjoyed a breakout season in 2013, rushing for a career-high 1,255 yards and appearing in all 16 games for the first time since he turned pro. Like any other running back in the NFL, Mathews could not have done it without the help of his offensive line. That’s why he decided to thank them all by giving them gifts.
According to Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego, Mathews gave each of his offensive lineman a Gucci watch last week. Center Nick Hardwick was thankful for the gesture but did not seem surprised.
“He’s awesome,” Hardwick said. “That is who he is. It’s not him being humble just to be humble. He truly is that. He’ll grab you and say, ‘Let’s get this done. Let’s get this going.’ He knows it takes all of us. It takes his fullback. It takes his tight ends. It takes the receivers to pop big runs. It certainly takes the offensive line, and he knows that. He’s fully bought into the team concept of ‘us.’”
What was a bit surprising, however, is that Mathews even gave a watch to veteran offensive tackle Willie Smith. Smith was signed as insurance in November and played just six snaps for the Chargers during the regular season.
“I was shocked,” Smith said. “I was like, ‘What the heck? Gucci? On my seat? At my locker? Wow.’ That was my response. I did not expect to get anything. … I didn’t know who it was from until I asked everybody, and they said it was Ryan.”
Mathews refused to talk about the gifts when asked about them, so you know he wasn’t doing it for the publicity. It is not uncommon for running backs and quarterbacks to buy gifts for their offensive lineman, but that doesn’t make it any less thoughtful. And hey, at least Mathews didn’t make his linemen do what Carson Palmer made the Arizona Cardinals hogs do.