Top 15 NFL Players Who Failed To Live Up To The Family Legacy

Forging a path for yourself through a sport as tough as football can be nearly impossible in the lofty heights of the NFL.

Now imagine you have a family member or two in the Hall of Fame.

Thanks to the enormous pressure and expectations placed upon the shoulders of these players due to their last name, they failed spectacularly in making their mark on the league. What was an exciting rebirth of a family legacy beforehand is now mocked as an utter disappointment. No one can truly blame these men for failing where their fathers and brothers succeeded, but that does not stop anyone from making a mockery of those wayward careers.

While it is surprising how few clans have staying power within the NFL, it may perhaps be more jarring to see how far back they span. The Matthews' have a rich history that arcs from 1950-present day, representing over 60 years of gridiron glory, but others are much more infantile in regards to their status among pigskin royalty. Brothers have often shared the field, starting with the Bradshaws, but there is often an incredible discrepancy in talent levels between the siblings.

Many try to be the Mannings, but failure and ridicule usually awaits those that dare try. The prospect of seeing a star's son or younger brother may seem tantalizing initially, but has left fans feeling more embarrassed for those family members than some would care to admit.

Blood is thicker than water, but something must wash the bad taste of these players out of our mouths.

15 15. Dominique Barber


Dominique Barber was drafted in the 6th round of the 2008 draft, three years after his brother, Marion Barber III started his illustrious career with the Cowboys. Those two did not initiate the Barber line in the NFL, however, as their father, Marion Barber, Jr., played for the New York Jets from 1982-88. Dom was the black sheep of the family, playing on the defensive side of the ball as a safety whereas his contemporaries starred in the backfield. As a Golden Gopher of Minnesota, Barber found his stride in his junior and senior seasons, accumulating 174 tackles, five turnovers, and a score. That scorching output did not translate to his professional career, unfortunately for the second-generation player.

14 14. Craig Bradshaw


Louisiana Tech and the Bradshaws are synonymous, but only Terry made a name for himself beyond that institution. Drafted 10 years after his brother, Craig Bradshaw entered the NFL walking in the shadow of a behemoth so it is hardly his fault that he could not come within a light year of big bro's exploits. What is shocking is the length of his career, lasting only one season with the Houston Oilers and the league overall. The then-23-year-old earned a shot with the New Orleans Saints, but nothing ever came of it.

13 13. Mel Farr Jr.


There are few families as firmly entrenched in Detroit lore than the Farrs. The patriarch of the group, Mel Farr, was a Pro Bowl running back in the 1960s and 70s, while his brother, Miller Farr, built an equally impressive résumé around the league as a defensive back. Neither were inducted into the Hall of Fame, but that superior caliber of play did not transfer to Mel's sons, Mike and Mel, Jr. The latter played just one season in Los Angeles for the Rams and registered just a single start. After seeing what his father and uncle pulled off simultaneously, it seemed hard to imagine that there would be no continuation of the Farr brand of greatness.

12 12. Mike Flacco


While older brother Joe Flacco was building a remarkable career in the NFL, the younger Mike Flacco was stuck in the mud of minor-league baseball. It was not until 2014 that the other Flacco tried his luck in his sibling's trade, but the tryout with the Ravens in 2016 may have been afforded to him based mostly on nepotism. After winning a Super Bowl alongside John Harbaugh, Joe and his brother were both finally on a practice field together for the first time since high school. In similar stints with the San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New York Jets, Flacco had made it to the practice squad but no further.

11 11. Mike Golic Jr. 


There is no eating challenge a Golic would not take, making this family a formidable group of linemen. Preceding Mike Golic Jr. in the NFL were his father and uncle, Mike and Bob. That duo on the defensive line went on to terrorize backfields in the league for a combined 23 years, an impressive bout of longevity few get to enjoy. Golic Sr. moved onto a career in sports broadcasting and a spot on the hit ESPN radio show Mike and Mike, while Bob moved into a nice acting career in the 1990s, appearing on Saved By the Bell and several stints on ESPN as a broadcaster and analyst. They first took the league by storm and followed it up with solid gigs afterward.

10 10. Tim Hasselbeck


The two Hasselbecks that came before Tim made it extremely difficult for the former Boston College quarterback to reach the bar set by them. His father played at the tight end position, and Don's career peaked in New England where he amassed over 1,400 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns over seven seasons. After being traded to the Los Angeles Raiders in 1983, he went on to secure the first and only Super Bowl ring in the Hasselbeck family's history. Matt Hasselbeck had an incredible romp through the NFL as well, lasting 17 campaigns in a league where the average has settled at 3.3 years. He managed to reach Super Bowl XL against Big Ben and the Pittsburgh Steelers, nearly matching the accomplishments of his dad.

9 9. Kevin Matthews


The Matthews clan is one of the elite families in the NFL with three generations of ballplayers all making an exceptional impact on the league. It started with Clay Sr., was passed onto Clay Jr. and Bruce, and is now in the hands of Clay III and Jake. Senior's career had been interrupted by the Korean War, where he served as a paratrooper before returning to the league to play for the San Francisco 49ers. There had been four Matthews boys playing simultaneously, but Kevin and Casey both flamed out after failing to cling onto their jobs in the league. Kev is the son of Bruce, a Hall of Fame lineman, but that skill had not been passed down the oldest brother on that side of the family.

8 8. Casey Matthews

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The brother of Clay III, who is on track for a shot at the Hall of Fame, is Casey, a product of Chip Kelly's Oregon squads that were competing for national championships on a yearly basis. As a fourth-round draft pick, it was thought that he could come into the NFL and help a team almost immediately as a decent contributor. The Eagles gambled and lost on the third-generation linebacker, who underperformed during his tenure with Philadelphia. With the lack of confidence in Matthews, it was an easy decision for the NFC East franchise to cut the disappointing defender.

7 7. Jordan Rodgers


The man most known for starring on The Bachelorette is the younger brother of Super Bowl champion and Hall of Fame hopeful Aaron Rodgers. While the former first-round draft pick had dazzled since taking over for Brett Favre in 2008, Jordan struggled to even make a practice squad after entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent. His stints with Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, and the Miami Dolphins all came with the same results, and he never appeared in an NFL game. He quit the British Columbia Lions of the CFL in 2015 after finally seeing the writing on the wall.

6 6. Chris Simms


Phil Simms is a legend in New York, leading the Giants to a Super Bowl victory in 1986 and mounting a 95-64 record over his 14-year career. As a mammoth among Giants, Simms built a legendary life for himself after settling down in New Jersey and raising two sons that would go onto play in the NFL. The eldest, Chris, played his college ball at the University of Texas where he would go on to make several All-Big 12 teams. Along with the fame came some shady business, as Simms describes, "I may have gotten a few $100 handshakes every now and then to sign some autographs for alumni." His college fame did not translate to a prosperous professional period in the pros, however.

5 5. Matt Simms

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

For however short Chris fell off his father's heights, younger brother Matt doubled that disappointment. The journeyman college quarterback settled in at Tennessee in the end of his amateur run but ultimately lost his starting job. He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent and was picked up by his hometown team and Phil's crosstown rival, the New York Jets. As a franchise that has been stuck with droves of crummy quarterback options for the better part of a decade, Simms did not help their image or prospects. Thanks to the ineptitude of Geno Smith, Matt got a bit of playing time in mop-up duty at the end of several blowouts.

That experience would be the ceiling for Simms, as his other destinations in Buffalo and Atlanta resulted in him being cut before the season began. No one wanted the bottom-of-the-barrel QB, but Chris Simms came out with a conspiracy theory that elaborated on that idea. Strap on your tinfoil hats, folks, this one is a doozy.

4 4. Ebert Van Buren


Who says these players all must be current or recent? The Van Buren brothers of the 1940s and 50s are two of the most influential players in the history of the game of football. Steve was a five-time First-Team All-Pro and won two championships with the Philadelphia Eagles. His versatile play earned the eldest brother a spot in the Hall of Fame, as well as a permanent spot in the hearts and minds of any Eagles fan that knows their organization's history. Ebert was a fine player in his own right but failed to pick up his sibling's slack.

Drafted in 1951, the same year Steve called it quits, Ebert was coming off an incredible career at LSU. Both were drafted in the top-10 of the first round, the first time in the history of the league that had ever happened. Despite having the big name and the legendary background, Ebert lasted just three years in the NFL and never matched his brother's titles. He did manage to match his brother by finally being inducted into the LSU Hall of Fame, however, which was a long overdue honor for the former Tiger.

3 3. Marcus Vick


Michael Vick was a transcendent athlete that both followed in the footsteps of quarterbacks that shared similar traits with him and blazed a trail of his own. The time he spent at Virginia Tech was vastly superior to his brother Marcus' and he turned that into a first-overall selection in the 2001 NFL draft. Mike took never had back-to-back winning seasons in the NFL, but that had more to do with the players surrounding him than it had to do with Vick. There was one thing the two brothers shared more than anything, dubious as it may be, a criminal background.

2 2. Rodney Young


Rodney and his father Willie Young both played for the New York Giants, but had vastly different experiences regarding their performances. Willie was an overachieving Grambling State graduate who seized the opportunity afforded to him by the Mara's as an undrafted free agent. He was one of the most beloved players on his team and led the offensive line for ten years, an incredible feat no matter the scenario. That period for the Giants was a rocky one, however, with no championships and few playoff appearances. Rodney would never approach even those accolades.

1 1. Byron Westbrook


As the younger brother of potential future Hall of Fame running back Brian Westbrook, Byron Westbrook is living proof that older brothers are better athletes. Brian led the Eagles, along with Donovan McNabb, to a stretch of immensely successful seasons that consistently resulted in Philadelphia falling just short of winning it all. Those Andy Reid teams were some of the most thrilling in the annals of the franchise. The elder Westbrook racked up well over 10,000 yards from scrimmage and 71 touchdowns over his nine-year career, displaying his productivity while carrying the ball and catching it out of the backfield.

Their college years were spent at small institutions within the structure of their respective divisions. Brian went to what is now considered an FCS school, Villanova, and Byron attended a Division III school in Salisbury University. Both schools benefited from having a Westbrook in their backfield, and scouts did not misfire on either and made sure to investigate them thoroughly. Byron was an undrafted free agent, however, and was a special teams impact player for the Washington Redskins for three seasons. He also played at the cornerback slot, recording 40 total tackles over the span of his short career. While stardom came easy for his brother, apparently, greatness does not run in the family.

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Top 15 NFL Players Who Failed To Live Up To The Family Legacy