HOUSTON, July 15 (UPI) -- Veteran offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, whose performance was matched only by his durability, officially announced his retirement Monday.
Matthews, one of the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history, made the announcement at the Texas offices of Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams.
The 40-year-old Matthews played his entire career with the Houston Oilers/Titans franchise, earning 14 Pro Bowl berths and making an NFL-record 229 consecutive starts in his 19-year career.
Adams said that the Titans will retire Matthews' No. 74 during a home game against the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 8 and induct him into the team's Hall of Fame.
"He obviously was a great football player, but what I found admirable about Bruce was that God and family were clearly more important than football and this is what made him a special man, not just a special football player," Adams said.
Last season, Matthews tied Merlin Olsen for the most Pro Bowls in NFL history -- nine at guard and five at center. He played in 296 career games, the most ever for a non-kicker.
Matthews never missed a game because of injury. He was sidelined for games in 1983 and 1987 due to contract disputes.
Matthews and guard Randall McDaniel, who retired earlier this year, were the only NFL players to appear in every game in the 1990s. Matthews' string of consecutive games played dates to Nov. 29, 1987.
The decision to retire was not totally unexpected. Matthews did not attend any of the team's offseason mini-camps. There had been speculation that Matthews would play a 20th season with the expansion Houston Texans.
With his retirement, Matthews is a virtual lock to be a first-ballot selection for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2006.
Matthews came to the Oilers with the ninth overall pick in the 1983 draft out of Southern California, where he used to pave the way for Charles White and Marcus Allen.
Matthews' retirement will leave Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green as the only active player from the 1983 draft.
During his career with the Houston/Tennessee franchise, Matthews has helped open holes for running backs Earl Campbell, Mike Rozier and Eddie George.
In Houston, Matthews and Mike Munchak -- the club's first-round pick in 1982 -- became the anchors of an offensive line for a team that made the playoffs seven straight years (1987-93) but never made it to the Super Bowl.
The crowning jewel of Matthews' career came when he started at left guard in the Titans' Super Bowl XXXIV 23-16 loss to the St. Louis Rams.
Matthews, who has six children, kept his home in Texas after the franchise relocated and will retire there.