As is the case with any other sport, pro football has seen its share of siblings make their way through the ranks. Some families just have the genetic makeup that’s best suited for the NFL. If one person in the family plays pro football, or aspires to do so at a young age, the others will often want to follow in their footsteps. It’s a natural decision, and one that we’ve come to fruition a lot in NFL history.
Of course, not all pairs of NFL brothers are the same in terms of quality. Many times, there is one that is head and shoulders above anyone else in the family. While just playing even a few snaps in the NFL is impressive to begin with, some sibling NFL players have been some of the greatest to ever lace up a pair of cleats. While it may not seem fair to compare their relatively mediocre football-playing siblings to them, it’s a natural comparison that will happen with any spectator. So let’s take a look at some of the NFL siblings over the years. Which ones did the family name proud, and which ones barely even made it on to a roster?
Ranked below are 8 NFL bros who are better than their siblings, and 7 who should have never stepped on the field.
15. Derek Carr (Better)
Now the established franchise quarterback of the Raiders, Carr has proven that he’s one of the best young talents in the game today, and is poised to lead Oakland to a deep playoff run in the near future. It’s certainly a better career outlook than his older brother David had, when starting for the Houston Texans.
To be fair, he did get a bit of a raw deal. The Texans had no semblance of an offensive line, and as a result, David was beaten to a bloody pulp on seemingly a weekly basis. Derek does have more talent regardless, but the gap between them would be much less if they played under similar circumstances, one way or the other.
14. Mike Flacco (Worse)
When you’re the younger brother of a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, you’re going to get opportunities that most others wouldn’t. Joe Flacco’s younger brother has received those opportunities, and probably hasn’t deserved them. Despite tryouts with numerous NFL teams, the younger Flacco has never cracked an NFL roster.
He’s been a professional baseball player as well, bouncing around the minor league systems of several MLB teams. Just like his endeavors on the football side of the spectrum, he never was able to work his way anywhere near a starting roster at the highest level. While his sibling relationship to one of the most successful quarterbacks of the era has given him a few shots, his talent just isn’t up to par.
13. Eric Kendricks (Better)
The younger brother of Philadelphia Eagle linebacker Mychal Kendricks, there was a time when he was seen as the weak link in the family, as far as football is concerned. The elder Kendricks had a few decent years on the Eagles roster, and received a big contract extension. Since then, he hasn’t lived up to expectations, while Eric has shown himself to be one of the best young linebackers in the league for the Vikings.
Both of their careers are far from over at this point, but right now, one is regressing, and one may be destined to be one of the best defensive players of his era. Eric should be a key piece to the Minnesota defense for years to come, and Mychal won’t be in Philly much longer, needing to establish himself on a new team. Right now, Eric has the distinctive advantage of the Kendricks brothers.
12. Boss Bailey (Worse)
If Boss wasn’t related to one of the best cornerbacks of all-time, most would consider his limited career relatively successful, given how difficult it is to succeed in the NFL. Since he is the brother of Champ, however, he’s not going to be getting much of the recognition surrounding the Bailey family.
Boss played four decent seasons in Detroit after being a 2nd round pick, and then a lone season in Denver before he retired in 2008. Not a stellar run, especially when you consider the accomplishments of Champ, and how he terrorized NFL wide receivers, season after season. Boss made the smart move to retire early, as his career peaked early, and he just wasn’t half of the player that his brother was.
11. Brent Celek (Better)
Both Celek brothers are tight ends on the Eagles and 49ers respectively, but there’s only one that can be seen as a good NFL player. Brent is the model of stability for the Eagles, having played over a decade, and been one of the most consistently good players on the roster. Garrett on the other hand, is a preliminary talent, and wouldn’t make the team on a few other rosters throughout the league.
Excelling as both a blocker and receiver throughout his career, Brent is truly one of the most respected members of the Eagles over the past 10 seasons. He’s truly proven himself to be the best of the two brothers, and he’ll go down as one of the best tight ends in Eagles history. Garrett may be lucky to hang on for a few more years in a marginal role.
10. Dan Gronkowski (Worse)
Brother Rob is one of the greatest receiving tight ends in the history of the league, so it’s not surprising that Dan isn’t able to live up to the family hype. Drafted in the 7th round by the Lions, he didn’t last long in the NFL ranks, and bounced around to four different teams in three years in the league. Clearly, he was only a marginal NFL talent, and that showed itself in due time.
It’s not fair to just expect Dan Gronk to live up to the achievements of his brother in full, but his talent level really didn’t warrant being on an NFL field at all. He was ineffective in just about every situation he was in, and ultimately there’s only one Gronkowski who is going to be remembered for their NFL career. Dan just couldn’t cut it, despite numerous opportunities.
9. Matt Hasselbeck (Better)
At the height of his career, Hasselbeck really was a solid quarterback, and helped the Seahawks to several really solid seasons in the mid-2000s. He had a career that lasted nearly 20 years, and although a good portion of it was eventually spent as a backup, that kind of NFL resume is a rare thing to observe.
Contrast this with his brother Tim, and the results aren’t even close. He played a mere four seasons in the league, and only started a total of five games. While the older Hasselbeck carved out a very consistent career for himself, despite some initial limitations, Tim just couldn’t get it going, and fizzled out very early in his time in the league. Matt was definitely the superior of the two sibling quarterbacks.
8. Casey Matthews (Worse)
Coming from one of the most heralded football families of all-time, this Matthews NFL player never lived up to the hype, despite a clear-cut starting opportunity with the Eagles. His career lasted only four seasons, and Matthews received ample starting time in 2014 for Philly, but couldn’t produce anything with it.
Compare this to his brother Clay, who has made his case as one of the best linebackers of his era, and one of the most beloved players in Packers’ history. There’s a huge disparity between the two brothers, and Casey could never hope to compare to such a dominating NFL career. Clay is the only worthwhile name between them as far as football goes.
7. J.J. Watt (Better)
The clear king of the Watt brothers is the force that is J.J. and the others don’t really have much of a chance to catch up to him. J.J. has simply proved himself to be one of the greatest defensive players of all-time, and that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the Watt clan. Coming off of an injury from last season, the elder Watt should be able to put together one of his best seasons yet in 2017.
Brother T.J. was just drafted by the Steelers, and Derek is a fullback for the Chargers currently. Both are just fine for what they do, but when your older brother is compared to defensive juggernauts like Reggie White and Lawrence Taylor, you’re going to have a hard time standing out when anybody brings up the family name.
6. Ty Detmer (Worse)
Interestingly enough, if you compare their collegiate careers, Ty has the distinct edge over his brother Koy. Ty was a former Heisman winner at BYU, and he was seen to be the far better NFL prospect by most people. Despite this, the roles reversed in the NFL ranks, and Koy was the one who turned out to have the better career.
Both were mostly slotted in the backup quarterback role in the NFL, but Ty really struggled with living up to the hype. He just wasn’t reliable in any form. At least Koy was able to hang on as the perennial backup for the Eagles through many of the Donovan McNabb years. Ty was projected to be the better player, but he ultimately proved to inconsistent for any role at the NFL level.
5. Sterling Sharpe (Better)
There’s no denying that both of the Sharpe brothers were some of the best players of their generation. No offense to Shannon, who was one of the best tight ends in the league for over a decade with the Broncos, and was a key figure in their 1998 Super Bowl run. But Sterling could have been one of the very best receivers of all-time, had a devastating neck injury cut his career short in his prime.
He was a five-time All Pro in just seven NFL seasons. Had he not suffered the career-ending injury, he had a good chance to break a multitude of NFL receiving records. Some of the statistics he posted in his brief career are simply mind-blowing, and although Shannon proved to be a great tight end, Sterling was the more dynamic player, and could have been a top five receiver of all-time, had the injury not occurred.
4. Marcus Vick (Worse)
A far cry from his dynamic dual-threat quarterback of a brother, Marcus only appeared for the Dolphins in a single NFL season, and went undrafted. He had a bevy of legal troubles, and was kicked off the team at Virginia Tech. It wasn’t a good start to the career of such a high-profile name, and Marcus never lived up to what many expected of him.
Even without the legal problems, it’s unlikely that he would have been as dynamic as Michael, but he certainly didn’t do himself any favors, and younger fans today probably don’t even realize that Michael Vick had a brother who was a prospective NFL player. Marcus wasn’t built for the NFL game, and most people realized this after his lone failed season in Miami.
3. Ronde Barber (Better)
Another close call on which brother had the better career, and Ronde just barely takes the cake. He was one of the best cornerbacks of his era, and was one of the most prolific interception artists of all-time. His time with the Buccaneers personified the concept of a ball-hawking corner that could shut down any receiver in the league. For 16 seasons he was nearly unbeatable on the outside of the field, and he has one of the most impressive resumes for any NFL player to play at the position.
Brother Tiki was a very good running back for the Giants, but he was never as good for the length of time that Ronde was. He hit his peak late in his career, and then retired before he was able to sustain it to a level that would have been comparable with Ronde. Ultimately, Ronde just barely edged out his brother in the quality department, although both proved themselves to be great NFL players.
2. Jordan Rodgers (Worse)
A pale imitation of his brother Aaron, Jordan Rodgers just wasn’t cut out to be an NFL quarterback. Three years bouncing around the league yielded a lone appearance on the Tampa Bay practice squad, and two more short stints where he didn’t make the cut at all for the Jaguars or Dolphins. He failed to beat out 3rd-string quarterbacks, which says it all, really.
Considering the fact that his brother is one of the best quarterbacks of all-time, and maybe the best quarterback of his era based on sheer talent, it’s at least a little bit embarrassing and disheartening that the younger Rodgers couldn’t even crack the surface of an NFL roster. Maybe he should just stick to trying to meet girls on primetime reality shows on NBC. Either way, there’s a valley between him an Aaron as far as quarterback talent goes.
1. Peyton Manning (Better)
The Manning family may be the most renowned and recognizable in the history of the NFL, but there can only be one member of it that can lay claim to being the best. Eli has had a successful career as the franchise quarterback of the Giants, including two Super Bowl victories, but Peyton is by far the better player on the field when it’s all said and done.
In his prime, Manning was the best quarterback in the league. If you simply go by the level of talent displayed on the field, it’s not even close. The elder Manning was a suburb pre-snap quarterback, seeming to know what the defense was going to do, even before they did. When he was at his best, which showcased amazing accuracy alongside a powerful arm, there was nobody better in the history of the league. Eli is very good, but he rarely could crank his level up play up to “11” like his brother often did.
Peyton is unquestionably the king of the Manning clan.
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