It must be interesting growing up as the son of an all-star athlete. Fringe benefits like free tickets and front row seats probably offset some of the obvious downsides. Watching your dad interact with fans might be fun the first few times you witness a fan approach for an autograph, but all the constant media attention and scrutiny probably gets annoying after a while. Another downside is the fact that pro sports players are constantly on the move. When dad is off playing away games, the family can only wait patiently for his return. Also, if the return isn’t so heroic-- say, if dad makes that crucial mistake that contributes to a big loss-- that’s just another source of stress for the family to deal with. Just imagine: it’s bad enough to face your friends the morning after your favorite team has a bad day, but picture having your father’s screw-ups get turned into a SportsCenter highlight reel.
Despite all the pressure and stress associated with being a part of a superstar sports family, it isn’t hard to see why so many sons of all-star dads go on to follow in father’s footsteps. The siren song of fame and fortune is hard to resist. Plus, young athletes with all-pro fathers receive many built-in advantages over the competition. For one thing, having a dad who can show you how the pros do it is a huge plus. Also, the name recognition that you get as the son of a professional sportsman ensures that your coach never underestimates your ability.
In sports, mental and physical ability are crucial. Still, in order to win you always still need a bit of luck. Despite the many advantages that sons of pro sport fathers receive, they don’t always manage to outshine their fathers. In the spirit of Fathers Day coming up, we're going to take a look at the greatest father/son duos in sports history. The list will primarily focus on the sons, but not without acknowledging what their fathers did before them. Listed below are ten of the most well-known athletes who followed dad’s footsteps. Some managed to emulate or even surpass dad’s sports achievements, but others-- well, not so much.
10 Tony & Anthony Dorsett
Tony Dorsett’s Hall of Fame NFL career was cut short by circumstances beyond his control-- a string of ankle injuries. When Dorsett was healthy, though, few defenders could stop him. He was the first NFL rookie to follow a college championship win with a Super Bowl trophy the next year. Tony Dorsett’s son Anthony switched to cornerback in college before making it to the NFL. Though he was never a star like his father, Anthony did make it to the Super Bowl (first with the Titans in 1999 and then again with the Raiders in 2002) but unfortunately, he was on the losing side of both championship games.
9 Howie & Chris Long
Howie Long’s rare combo of agility, strength and skill earned him eight Pro Bowl selections and two Super Bowls. Though not quite the monster on the field that his father was for the Raiders in the 1980s, Chris Long is quite a good defender in his own right. Chris made the All-Rookie team in 2008 and led the Rams in quarterback pressures. It’s safe to say that Chis, who is a defensive lineman like his father, learned a thing or two from him. The father-son duo both achieved mastery over the “rip” move-- a motion that break’s an offensive lineman’s block, allowing easy access to the quarterback.
8 Cecil & Prince Fielder
Mention the name Cecil Fielder, and the first thing that comes to mind is home runs. He was well known for smashing baseballs out of the park. In 1990, he was the first player to reach 50 home runs since George Foster did it in 1977. His son, five-time All-Star Prince Fielder, is also known for his power hitting abilities. Prince currently holds the Brewers record for most home runs in a season. He also became the youngest player to enter the 50 home run club in 2007. After setting the record, Prince remarked that he wouldn’t be happy until meeting personal goal of 52-- one homer more than his dad got in 1990. Talk about a heavy hitting father-son combo.
7 Bobby & Barry Bonds
When it comes to power and speed, few father-son duos in baseball can even begin to compare to Bobby and Barry Bonds. Bobby was the first player to record 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a single season. He went on to accomplish this amazing stat five separate times during his career-- a record matched only by his son Barry, who many still consider to be one of the greatest baseball players ever. Of course, Barry will always have an asterisk by his name-- nobody will ever forget the steroid scandal of 2007-- but even though he had chemical help, there’s no doubting Barry’s skill at the game of baseball.
6 Joe & Kobe Bryant
Though the “MJ or Kobe?” debate will probably rage on for eternity, one thing is certain: as the star of the Lakers dynasty that reigned supreme from 2000 to 2010, Kobe Bryant will go down as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. His dad, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, wasn’t so bad either. He racked up an impressive 5,252 points and 2,441 rebounds playing for the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1970s. Even though those aren’t Hall of Fame caliber numbers, Kobe probably wouldn’t have achieved his Jordan-esque stats without plenty of help and guidance from dad.
5 Ken Sr. & Ken Griffey Jr.
Ken Griffey Jr. was one of the best all-around players in MLB history. Over the span of his career he hit a whopping 630 home runs and won 10 Gold Glove awards as a center fielder. His father, Ken Griffey Sr., didn’t manage to get into the Hall of Fame, but he was an All-Star player in his time and a key part of the Reds’ “Big Red Machine” team in the mid-1970s. Unfortunately, despite his remarkable individual achievements Ken Griffey Jr. never won the World Series, only making the playoffs three times in his career. His father, on the other hand, has two.
4 Mychal & Klay Thompson
Klay Thompson-- the other half of Golden State’s “Splash Brothers” duo-- was also fortunate enough to have a father who played in the NBA. Mychal Thompson holds the distinction of being the first foreign-born player to be picked first in the draft. He made the 1979 All-Rookie team in 1979. Later on, Mychal backed up the Lakers’ 1987 “Showtime” team and was given the key responsibility of defending Boston Celtics forward Kevin McHale. Though he was a great all-around player, Mychal Thompson was perhaps outshined by the likes of Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Abdul-Jabbar. His son, however, has gone on to become a star in his own right. Klay was named an NBA All-Star in 2015.
3 Dell & Stephen Curry
Golden State’s Stephen Curry is considered by some to be the greatest shooter in NBA history. Maybe he learned a few tricks of the trade from his father, who was quite a marksman in his own right. Dell Curry still holds still the Charlotte Hornets’ all-time three-point shot record. According to a Sports Illustrated interview, after young Stephen scored 63 points against the opposition during an 8th grade game, his father had to step out and wait in the hallway until the game was over. “I had to get out of there. I felt bad for the other team. I couldn’t watch what he was doing to those kids,” Dell said.
2 Archie & Peyton/Eli Manning
In 1971, Archie Manning had the misfortune of getting drafted to the Saints. During his time in New Orleans, the Saints only managed to finish above .500 once. Even though his teammates were awful players, Archie managed to put up some good stats: 125 touchdowns, 23,911 passing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. Despite his heroic efforts, Archie’s Saints never made the playoffs. His sons Peyton and Eli, however, had much better luck. Eli led the Giants to two Super Bowl victories against the Patriots and won MVP both times. Peyton Manning owns a Super Bowl ring too, and is considered to be one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of football for performances that earned him a record five MVP awards over the span of his career.
1 Bobby & Brett Hull
Bobby and Brett are both in the Hockey Hall of Fame. They both have won the Hart Memorial Trophy and Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.. Also, they both had their numbers retired-- an honor unique among all father-son duos in the professional sports world. So, who was better-- Bobby or Brett? It’s hard to say. While it is true that Bobby Hull scored slightly less goals than Brett, it’s also true that Bobby was named MVP twice and led the NHL in scoring three times. We’ll call this one a tie. Combined, they have 1,345 goals and 2,544 points. The fact that they're both Hall of Famers and that it's such a toss-up justifies the Hulls' no.1 spot on our list for the best father/son duos in sports history.
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