Family is an important thing to any fraternity man. Maybe your dad was a legend within your chapter, or maybe he worked his fingers to the bone giving you an education. Either way, a good dad is someone who will keep you on the straight and narrow but still toss you a cold beer. I like to imagine it’s the same for pro football players, just on a larger scale and with more disposable income. In that vein, and to keep your mind off the continuing football drought, this list compiles the top father/son legacies in the NFL.
Note: There needs to be a relative currently in the league to make this list.
5. The Heywards (Craig and Cameron)
Cameron Heyward has been a staple on Pittsburgh’s front seven since he made it to the league in 2011. He’s a solid presence on the edge and has the pleasure of getting knocked around by pissed off linemen while his boys make plays. Dude’s tough. His dad, Craig “Ironhead” Heyward was a hardass too. Fullbacks are basically glorified offensive linemen themselves, just ones with a head start. He managed to bang it out while weighing upwards of 300 pounds, so his kid definitely gets it honest. He was also the guy in the “thingy” commercials for Luffas. Sadly, Ironhead passed away in 2005 from a resurgence of bone cancer. His son, having a little thing called “pride” in his family, was fined almost six grand by the NFL for personalizing his eye black to honor his late father. It also served the dual purpose of raising cancer awareness. Way to uphold the integrity of the league, Rodge.
4. The Longs (Howie, Chris, and Kyle)
Some fans are more familiar with Howie’s career on Fox’s NFL pre-show, but it’s his work on the field that really stands out. Called “Caveman” for his brutal approach to the game, Howie was a staple on the Raiders’ Black Hole defenses. His hard knocks background, growing up in Boston and gutting his way to Villanova on a football scholarship, was clearly a great example for his boys. Chris plays defensive end like his pops and was just traded to the Pats after 7 seasons in St. Louis. Smart move getting out in time to avoid living in L.A. Kyle is a Swiss Army offensive lineman for the Bears. After blowing a baseball scholarship at Florida State by partying his nuts off, he ended up playing junior college football. He cleaned up his act, making a move to Oregon and getting drafted in the first round. Now, he’s a Pro Bowler and apparently homies with Mia Khalifa on Twitter. How’s that for redemption?
3. The Ryans (Buddy, Rex, and Rob)
Legacies aren’t always players. Coaches can pass along some quality knowledge without all that pesky genetic stuff getting in the way. The late Buddy Ryan, mastermind of the finest defense ever fielded, did just that with his twin boys Rex and Rob. He also managed to impart attitude and, in certain cases, show his sons how not to act. Rex is best known for his theatrical signings, ability to make Mark Sanchez look competent, and hankering for snacks. Rob’s the one with great hair. They’ll be running the Bills together this year, so be prepared for some quality sound bites.
2. The Mannings (Archie, Peyton, and Eli)
Three guys with “aw shucks” media personalities and killer field instincts, the Mannings are the most popular family in football. Archie’s your typical Southern dad, good natured and painfully humble. Peyton’s the golden boy, making his own legacy stronger as he rides into the sunset and pops in for SNL sketches. Then, there’s Eli. Goofy Eli, the fraternity legend. Even if he can’t hold those rings over big brothers head anymore, the guy has a few years left to win another. He’s also the guy who offed those 18-1 Patriots, hazed a kid during a Gatorade commercial, and somehow manages to outplay his coverage despite looking like Simple Jack. Respect, little bro. Of course, you can’t forget about Cooper. I hear he just got a new Mazda. Smooth move, Coop.
1. The Matthews (Clay, Bruce, Clay Jr, Clay III, Kevin, Casey, and Jake)
When you have seven family members playing football at the highest level, there’s a strong chance the family home was situated on some kind of radiated land. The Superman kind. Bruce is the lone Hall of Famer, although anyone that has seen their team terrorized by Clay III for as long as I have knows he has a case for Canton. The patriarch, Clay Sr. played offensive line for the 49ers before shipping off to Korea as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne. He then returned to San Francisco for three more years before going on to find success in business. Clay Jr. was a Pro Bowl linebacker for the ’80s Browns. Now, Clay III tears it up for the Packers, Jake is a load for Atlanta, and Casey follows in Clay Jr’s footsteps as a linebacker in Minnesota. Kevin is a former center for the Panthers. If all that is a lot to wrap your head around, it’s because one fucking family shouldn’t be able to mass produce professional athletes. I don’t know what’s going on at Clay I’s Pertec Peripherals, but something tells me there are either cyborgs, clones, or Frankensteins at play. Investigate that, Goodell..
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