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Football Families: 20 NFL Players Who Lived In Their Relative's Shadow

Anyone who has ever gotten pep talks on how to become “as good” as the people who have gone ahead of them, especially if these people are close relatives like a father or brother, may probably understand how it feels to live in their relative’s shadow.

It could be hard for an athlete, no doubt, to see a relative achieve success so much it becomes a big deal to fit in their shoes. That’s the same case when a relative enters a Football Hall of Fame in the NFL; it becomes hard for the succeeding relative to achieve such feats. So, what is the perfect explanation for this occurrence? Perhaps it’s because the talent doesn’t run through the family or the succeeding athlete’s success couldn’t measure up to the preceding relative. Whatever the case may be, it’s, no doubt, embarrassing for an NFL athlete to get interviewed by the media only to hear the journalist sing the praises of the preceding relative.

So, in this article, we’ll be showing you some NFL players who weren’t able to fill the successful shoes of their older relatives in the pros. However, there is only one unusual case in this article, where living in the relative’s shadow was the other way round.  Also, we’ll be looking at some NFL players who weren't cut out for the game, but entered because it was a family legacy.

Keep reading to see more of these players.

20 Eli Manning (Peyton Manning)

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

In his days, Peyton Manning went down as one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game. While he still played, he had the perfect physique and agility for his position. So, when his younger brother Eli got drafted in 2004, we expected to see that same drive or even more from him.

Perhaps, we expected too much? Or we overvalued him because we thought he would do great things. After all, it’s the same blood that runs through Eli’s vein. According to Usatsimg, there is a lot of debate amongst critics and fans about whether Eli will achieve the corridor of fame. It’s a sign that Eli is leaving under the shadow of Peyton.

19 Jarrett Payton (Walter Payton)

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

If you know the Late Walter Payton and were probably a fan, then you will understand that his son, Jarrett Payton, lived under his dad’s fame. Jarrett wasn’t able to amount to at least half of the greatness of his father.

According to Sporting News, while in Miami, Jarrett started playing soccer for his school. However, daddy’s boy didn’t make it into the 2005 draft; instead, he ended up playing for the Tennessee Titans in 2005, but that was the best we ever saw of him until he retired in 2012 at the Chicago Slaughter. By 2015, he got a job as a sports reporter for WGN-TV.

18 Jordan Rodgers (Aaron Rodgers)

via espn.com

The name Aaron Rodgers rings a loud bell to any NFL fan. Of course, he is a successful quarterback who recently signed another four-year extension with the Green Bay Packers worth $134 million, plus Aaron was ranked No. 10 in the top 100 players of 2018, according to Sportskeeda.

We can’t say the same for Jordan, his younger brother. He only played in the NFL for two years before he quit, and featured in a TV reality show called “The Bachelorette” where he became the winner. At least he found something outside the football career, but Jordan ended in the shadows of his brother.

17 Bryan Cox Jr. (Bryan Cox Sr.)

via 247sports.com

Bryan Cox Jr., no doubt, still has a lot of time on his side considering the fact he was only undrafted into the NFL in 2017 to play for the Carolina Panthers in the defensive position. We haven’t seen anything special from him for now, so we are still made to believe that he’s hiding under the shadow of Bryan Cox Sr., his father or perhaps he’s got something cooking.

According to BleacherReport, Bryan Cox Sr. was a three-time pro bowler for the Miami Dolphins and part of the team of the New England Patriots that won Super Bowl XXXVI before his retirement.

16 Tim Hasselbeck (Matt Hasselbeck)

via nypost.com

The three-time Pro Bowler, Matt Hasselbeck, got drafted into the Green Bay Packers far back in the 1998 season. He was also an active and successful quarterback, so we aren’t surprised that he played 16 seasons in the league before joining his brother Tim Hasselbeck, who once played in the league but wasn’t successful enough to achieve the feats his brother covered.

According to BleacherReport, Tim lived in Matt’s shadow as a player. He only played for six seasons before he left the scene to become an ESPN analyst. From the look of things, Tim seems to enjoy his job as an ESPN analyst than his former career as an NFL player.

15 Anthony Dorsett Jr. (Tony Dorsett)

via youtube.com

Playing as a successful running back in the NFL from 1977, when he got drafted in the Round One, all through to 1988 when he retired in the Denver Broncos because of a knee injury, Tony Dorsett Sr. set the bar way too high for his son, Anthony Dorsett Jr., to touch.

According to BleacherReport, Anthony Dorsett Jr. was not able to achieve half of what his father accomplished in his time as a super bowl champion, a four-time Pro Bowler, or even get the award for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the year, amongst others. It’s clear that junior lived in the shadow of his father.

14 Eric Moss (Randy Moss)

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

If you were a fan of Randy Moss during his time at the NFL, you’d understand that he was perhaps one of the best receivers the NFL ever produced. He was also a six-time Pro Bowler, four-time All Pro choice, five-time chief for receiving touchdowns, and the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1998.

However, we can’t say the same for his half-brother Eric Moss, who had a short-lived career. In 1997, he managed to sign an offensive deal with the Minnesota Vikings in 1997, even though he wasn’t fit enough for the position. He apparently lived in Randy’s shadow.

13 Jamie Sharper (Darren Sharper)

via rueters.com

Jamie Sharper is a lot dissimilar to the other relatives in this article. In his case, the older brother, who is, Jamie was the less talented brother. His younger brother is Darren Sharper, a five-time Pro Bowler, and a fantastic Super Bowl XLIV winner.

According to BleacherReport, both brothers were second-round picks, but one proved he was a fantastic player and it indeed wasn’t Jamie. It’s so clear that Jamie hides in the shadow of his brother Darren, especially, when he faces the media. So, we’re not surprised that most fans remember Darren more, even though he is the younger one.

12 Matt Simms (Phil Simms)

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

American Football, no doubt, runs in the blood of the Simms. Nevertheless, Matt Simms hasn’t been able to prove himself. Even though he has a longer NFL career than his father, Phil, did, he hasn’t been able to attain the height or legacy his father left behind. He has a brother, Chris, who also has played a longer career than Phil’s, but hasn’t done justice too. We will be talking about him later in this article.

According to The Headgamesonline, after starting his professional career in the New York Jets, he hasn’t been able to bring his “A game” on.

11 Marcus Vick (Michael Vick)

via bleacherreport.com

It’s difficult for most fans of Michael Vick to connect on the same level with Marcus and you can’t blame them. The reason for this is that Michael’s electrifying performance left a mark, but his brother, Marcus, on the other hand, didn’t leave such an impression.

Aside= from that, it’s necessary to point out that Michael was flexible considering that he played as a return specialist, quarterback, and broad receiver. In 2006, Marcus chose to declare for the NFL Draft according to Headgamesonline—and at this time, he had concluded his University soccer profession at Virginia Tech. However, he wasn’t so lucky because he was undrafted and some issues obstructed his profession—that earned him no chance to outlive his brother.

10 Kellen Winslow II (Kellen Winslow Sr.)

Via Los Angeles Times

Maybe the attachment in their names chose to play out in reality because Kellen Winslow Sr., remained a senior in his career, while Winslow II remained a junior. It doesn’t mean that Winslow II didn’t do well because he had a tight finish like his father.

Compared to his father who dubbed as one of the most important tight ends in history, named to five Pro Bowls, and performed his entire NFL profession with the San Diego Chargers, you can tell that bar was so high to reach. Winslow II was able to make the NFL draft in 2004 and do his longest stint according to Sportskeeda—but this wasn’t enough to get him out of his father’s shadows.

9 Mike Golic (Bob Golic)

Via New York Post

Do you listen to ESPN radio? If your answer is affirmative, then you should be familiar with the gifted Mike Golic that serves as the present host of Golic and Wingo. The reason why people relate to Mike Golic as a presenter is because he didn’t make such an impact as a footballer when he was within the NFL from 1985 to 1993.

People expected Mike to outdo his elder brother Bob, but it didn’t seem like he was interested. Even though Bob went for an entertainment-related profession after his retirement, according to Bleacher Report, people remember him more like a great footballer because he was a two-time All Pro from 1985 to 1987 and a three-time Pro Bowler from 1985 to 1987.

8 Nate Montana (Joe Montana)

via ninersnation.com

Joe Montana left big shoes for his son to fill considering that he was a Corridor of Fame quarterback. Joe was also a famous member of the San Francisco 49ers for 13 years (1979 to 1992). When San Francisco gained five fabulous Bowl Championships, Joe was present in his prime for about four, according to Sportskeeda.

However, his son couldn’t meet up with his father’s feat because he was too busy playing high school and college soccer for a long time. When Nate seemed like he was ready, he took the bull by the horn, but he went undrafted within the 2013 NFL Draft. Maybe he gave up after he was turned down because he never signed with an NFL workforce afterward.

7 Boss Bailey (Champ Bailey)

via en.wikipedia.org

The name Champ Bailey lingers in the minds of so many football fans because he was a 12-time Pro Bowler. On the other hand, his brother Boss Bailey was forgotten with ease because he is a former Denver Broncos cornerback and Detroit Lion with no exclusive title to show for it.

Somewhere along the line, Boss got honors at Charlton County Excessive Faculty, but it doesn’t make people remember him as such. He also became a three-year starter at Georgia, according to Sportskeeda. In the end, Boss didn’t come close to his brother’s successes since he didn’t have a profession within NFL.

6 Jerry Rice Jr. (Jerry Rice)

via nbcsports.com

The Jerry Rice story is another example of a junior that never outlived his father’s record but remained in the shadows. Jerry Rice had a memorable history thanks to the fact that he was a Corridor of Fame quarterback. But, this wasn’t a good thing for Jerry Jr. instead, of meeting expectations or surpassing it, he remained below.

Jerry Junior’s case soon became painful to watch because he shared identity with his father, who fans looked up to and he performed in the same position. In 2014, he signed with Washington Redskins but was put aside in 2015, according to Headgamesonline. After that, Jerry Jr. got a chance of additional tryouts within the NFL.

5 David Carr (Derek Carr)

via houseofhouston.com

Even though there has been some confusion as regards to Derek Carr being a real franchise quarterback, he cleared the air about how professional he is compared to his elder brother. In 2016, Derek was the Raiders’ quarterback, and he got consideration after an MVP Caliber season. The consideration led to Derek signing a five-year contract. According to Bleacher Report, the deal was worth $125 million with $40 million entirely assured.

David Carr didn’t achieve as much as his brother Derek did, but he has a record for one of NFL’s biggest draft busts. After four years in Houston, David became a free agent, but this didn’t land him a secure job as an NFL participant.

4 Brian Griese (Bob Griese)

via nbcsports.com

It is apparent fans expected much more football-wise from Brian Griese since his father Bob set a pace by being the Corridor of Fame. However, it’s a good thing that he found a job as a color commentator for ESPN School Soccer.

According to Sportskeeda, Brian played football in Michigan, and it resulted in the third-round decision of the Denver Broncos within the NFL Draft in 1998. No doubt, Brian had an experience that so many guys dream about having, judging from his rookie year. But, he wasn’t a spectacular participant on the tremendous Bowl roster. In other words, Brian wasn’t a mainstay when compared to his father.

3 Chris Simms (Phil Simms)

via nypost.com

Before Chris Simms kicked off with his career in football, he had two people’s achievements to beat to get him out of their shadows. His father’s success was much more challenging to reach, but he did his best to outdo, his brother, Matt’s success. According to Bleacher Report, Chris performed as a quarterback within the NFL.

He also played school soccer at Texas, and it led to a third-round decide within the 2003 NFL Draft. With the list of success Chris had, it wasn’t a match for his father Phil who was a former New York Giants quarterback. Phil had a two-time Professional Bowl Choice and 1986 First-Staff All-Pro.

2 Chris Lengthy (Howie Lengthy)

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

From the analysis of Chris Lengthy's life, it’s evident that he didn’t match the success of his father even though he could boast of success in a way. In 2009, Chris got drafted by the Rams, and he gained some success within the league. Also, he was able to obtain a Tremendous Bowl with the 2017 Eagles and the 2016 Patriots. While he was at it, Chris gave some worth to his groups dashing the passer.

According to Bleacher Report, Howie, his father was a star for the Oakland Raiders from the mid-80s to early 90s. In 1985, Howie made it to eight Professional Bowls, and he was a profitable Defensive Participant alongside; and this achievement keeps Chris in Howie’s shadows.

1 T.J. Watt (J.J. Watt)

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

J.J. Watt is the elder brother of T.J. Watt, and he had a good career that left his brother in a position to fill at all cost. T.J. Watt played football at the University of Wisconsin. As a result of his play, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him 30th general within the NFL draft in 2017.

With how young T.J Watt is, we can say that he has a lot of time to become a star within the league, but According to Sportskeeda, there are odds that he won’t win Defensive Player of the Year twice—which means he may not come close to his brother’s success.

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