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 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.
In 39 games 'Nique started seven, netting himself 26 tackles, one pick, and one touchdown. After his fourth year in the league, it was curtains for Barber, who was let go by the Houston Texans in 2011. What could have been an intriguing stretch for him was eradicated by injury. After hurting his hamstring and landing on injured reserve, Barber was never the same. Despite what his family preceded him with, it was not enough to build any kind of staying power within the league.
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.
The Bradshaws made NFL history together by playing in the first-ever game that pitted brothers against each other at the quarterback position. Craig could not capture lightning in a bottle like his sibling and wound up being just another washed up gunslinger from Louisiana. It is a rough lot in life to have your older brother hold four Super Bowl rings and a Hall of Fame jacket over your head, especially when that brother is Terry Bradshaw.
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.
Mel Farr's superstar talent ended with him, but his car background in car sales was passed on in spades to his sons. Junior is now operating a Mr. Finance Cars dealership in Marietta, GA where his family resides. While he fell well short of the family legacy on the field, he's been a shining example of what his father built off the field.
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.
As a former baseball player, it is a testament to his hard work that he has been able to get this far. There are hardly any crossovers coming from baseball into football, as it has typically been the other way around. Flacco has not been able to replicate his brother's success in football but has hardly given up on his dream to catch passes from his sibling. With seven years under his belt, Joe had established himself as a quarterback on the rise to elite rankings, making it damn near impossible for Mike to have a chance at living up to what his brother had built.
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.
Jr. followed in his father's and uncle's footsteps by skipping over the entire professional athlete part. He managed to save himself a few concussions here and there by never landing on a roster, as the undrafted free agent was passed on by both the Steelers and the Saints. It appears so far that Golic Jr. is following his fellow Golden Domers' examples to the very last detail. Mike has hosted his own radio shows on ESPN radio and has appeared in several of ESPN's garden variety of shows and segments. Junior fell spectacularly short of his predecessors' boons on the field, but he managed to stumble into the new family business.
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.
That brings us to Tim, who partially participated in or was rostered through seven NFL and NFL Europe seasons. His only major contribution to a squad was when he replaced then-injured Patrick Ramsey, going 1-4 when called upon. Hasselbeck managed to turn around what was a poor stint in the league into a wildly successful sports media career. His appearances on NFL Live have vaulted the former journeyman QB into the stratosphere of stardom in the realm of league analysts.
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.
Kevin has been on the Titans and Falcons, but only in minor capacities. The period he spent with Tennessee was a curious one, as he had been repeatedly signed and cut by the organization. His father Bruce may have assisted in his son's yo-yo-like signings, but ex-head coach of the Titans Mike Munchak has repeatedly denied that the relationship had anything to do with it.
8 Casey Matthews
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.
Picked up by the Minnesota Vikings shortly thereafter, a fresh start was in the mix. Several players had been able to kick-start their careers after finding a new home, and Casey would get to play against his brother Clay twice per year. A hip injury sidelined Matthews in 2015 and curbed any thoughts of seeing him in action during 2015. Despite recovering from the season-ending bump, Casey has never seen the field since.
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.
Family strife in the Rodgers clan has been well-documented for several years, but there has never been much contention until now. Both sides claim the other has wronged them, with Aaron claiming that his family detests his significant other Olivia Munn, while Jordan and others have stated that fame has gotten to the quarterback's head. There have been few estrangements both as public and awkward as this one, and the fact that it includes one of the best quarterbacks in the last two decades only adds to the fascination.
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.
Despite a relatively long career in the NFL, seven years with three teams, the former 3rd-round pick was never able to replicate anything close to what Phil put on the field. He split time with an older Brian Griese but lost that shine he had honed so well during those UT at Austin days. Chris's second year in the league was his most productive as he guided Tampa to a 6-4 record while he was under center. After that high point, Simms rarely saw any action. In 2012 Chris served as an assistant coach for the New England Patriots but is now working on NFL on CBS with his father Phil.
5 Matt Simms
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.
Chris went on to say, "I’ve been told by coaches all over the league that, ‘Hey we like your brother, but our front office doesn’t want to deal with it’. ... I’ve had coaches tell me: ‘I don’t think our GM was comfortable bringing him in. I don’t think your last name is helping Matt.’” Even if that was the case, GMs around the league already know that Matt has no future simply because of his skill level. When the family is involved, biases abound.
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 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.
Marcus was seen as a reincarnation of Michael, and it was believed that he could be just as good, if not better than the latter. Immaturity and stupidity, which often go hand-in-hand, derailed the talented QB's college stint. Coach Frank Beamer and VT University president Charles Steger announced Vick's dismissal from the team, which was then followed by the outcast declaring himself for the NFL draft. Every team passed on him, not wanting to take a risk on what was clearly a toxic player to have in any organization. Marcus bounced around as an undrafted free agent in the league but never stuck anywhere for long. He was most recently arrested in October 2016 on charges of drug possession in Virginia Beach.
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.
Drafted in the third round, the defensive back from LSU was the first relative of a former player to put on a uniform for the Giants. He lasted just four seasons and recorded six total tackles in 33 games while never starting one of them. Having grown up indoctrinated in the Louisiana and New York football cultures, it was a shock to see the second generation Young fail in a Giants uniform.
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.