Some children want nothing more than to follow in the footsteps of their parents. It is a common tale, one that has repeatedly played out in the world of sports. Kids who grew up watching their fathers compete in the National Football League have, throughout history, understandably desired to have successful careers in the league. Great NFL players are beloved by fan bases. They also happen to make a ton of money from their player contracts and also from endorsement deals that they are able to land during their careers. What child of a former NFL player would not want such fame and fortune for himself if he is able to play the game at an elite level?
Two tremendous quarterbacks are second-generation NFLers, the son of a QB who played on some horrible teams and who never won a Super Bowl. Peyton Manning is probably the greatest regular season quarterback in NFL history, and he won his second title when the Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers at Super Bowl 50. Eli Manning may not have the resume had by his older brother, but the New York Giants QB has been responsible for two championship-winning drives. Eli is a two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player who will one day be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Having a famous father and good genes does not, of course, guarantee that a second-generation NFL player will make it big or at all in the league. Phil Simms is one of the greatest players in the history of the Giants, and he was nearly perfect when the Giants defeated the Broncos at Super Bowl XXI. One might assume that at least one of his quarterback sons would have become a serviceable starter, if not a top-tier player, for a NFL franchise. That did not happen, though, or at least it has not happened as of the posting of this piece.
15. Kellen Winslow II
Somebody, somewhere may take offense in seeing Kellen Winslow II mentioned here. Winslow had the physical tools to be maybe the best tight end in NFL history, but his career took a different path when he wrecked his motorcycle and suffered a serious knee injury in the spring of 2005. Winslow did manage to make a Pro Bowl squad, but his last significant NFL moment came in 2013 when he was suspended for violating the NFL’s policy regarding performance-enhancing drugs. Winslow makes the cut here because of what he could and, in reality, should have been as a NFL player.
14. George Wilson Jr.
Here is a blast from the past. George Wilson was a talented athlete who could play pro football and pro basketball in the 1930s and 1940s. George Wilson Jr., on the other hand, was not quite as gifted. This Wilson played quarterback for the Miami Dolphins when the club was an expansion team in 1966. Wilson started seven of 14 games, and his record was 2-5. Not only would Wilson never start another game. He never played another down of regular season football. Wilson’s father was the head coach of the expansion Dolphins before the team moved on to a former player named Don Shula.
13. Bryan McClendon
Some of you might be scratching your head upon seeing this name. Willie McClendon spent four seasons as a running back with the Chicago Bears decades ago. The Bears took a flier on Willie’s son Bryan, a wide receiver who hoped to impress the club during a summer training camp. Not only did that not happen. McClendon had a NFL career that lasted only seven weeks before it was over. Unlike some others, McClendon was able to see the writing on the wall and then find success as a college coach. He is currently a coordinator for the South Carolina Gamecocks.
12. Anthony Dorsett
Yes, Anthony Dorsett is the son of Tony Dorsett, the all-time great running back who is in the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Unlike his father, however, Anthony Dorsett did not achieve similar success in the NFL. The younger Dorsett, a safety, eventually landed a home with the Oakland Raiders after a stint with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans. Dorsett found the end zone twice with Oakland, the only two NFL touchdowns he scored during his career. He last played in the NFL in 2003, but Dorsett did give it a go in the United Football League as recently as 2010.
11. Jarrett Payton
Those of us who have never been in such a situation cannot understand the pressure that Jarrett Payton likely felt during his career. Like his famous father Walter, Jarrett played running back in college and as a pro. Payton was with the Tennessee Titans in 2005, and he had a pair of rushing yards in his debut season with the club. That would be the one and only season of Payton’s brief NFL career. Payton completed stints in the Canadian Football League and the Indoor Football League, but he never received another chance to play a down of regular season football in the NFL.
10. Tim Castille
Jeremiah Castille played defensive back in the NFL for six seasons. Neither one of his two sons lasted nearly as long in the league. We begin this portion of the piece with Tim Castille, the fullback/running back who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2007. Castille appeared in 14 regular season games for the Arizona Cardinals in his debut season. He went on to notch 19 total receptions in his three seasons of NFL duty. It was announced in 2012 that Castille was returning to the University of Alabama as a graduate assistant coach.
9. Simeon Castille
Simeon Castille, also the son of the previously mentioned Jeremiah Castille, entered the NFL in 2008. The defensive back did not make much of an impact with the Cincinnati Bengals, and Castille and the Bengals parted ways after a single season. Castille found a new NFL home with the San Diego Chargers the following year. He registered a single appearance for the club in regular season play. That is the last that the NFL has seen of Castille, who later played in the United Football League and the Arena League. All indications are that his NFL dreams have come to an end.
8. Bobby Carpenter
Bobby Carpenter, the son of NFL running back Rob Carpenter, entered the NFL with a lot of promise following an impressive college career. Bobby was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft, but Carpenter was largely a dud who failed to earn a starting spot. Perhaps the best part of his NFL career occurred in October 2011 when he was playing for the Detroit Lions. Carpenter intercepted a pass during a game that saw the Lions mount an epic comeback against the Cowboys, Carpenter’s former employer. Carpenter last played in the NFL in 2012.
7. Marques Tuiasosopo
We will give Marques Tuiasosopo credit for at least having a memorable name. The son of Manu was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft. No disrespect meant to Tuiasosopo, but he never showed that he was worth such a high draft pick. Tuiasosopo started two games from 2001 up through the end of the 2005 regular season. Those would be the only NFL starts that Tuiasosopo would earn before he was out of the NFL. Tuiasosopo found success in football, but he has done so as a coach at the college level.
6. Dave Shula
Football fans of a certain age may only recognize Don Shula as a coach and not a former player. Don and his son Dave both played pro football, although you may have missed Dave’s career if you blinked at the wrong time. Dave spent a single season with the Baltimore Colts before he once again followed his father’s career path and became a coach. Unlike Don, Dave would not achieve success as a head coach in the NFL. The story has somewhat of a happy ending, though, as Dave linked up with his father to work in the family business known as Shula’s Steak Houses.
5. Ray Agnew III
Ray Agnew was a defensive lineman who played for several teams during a NFL career that lasted over a decade. Ray Agnew III, his son, may not last that long in the league. The younger Agnew is a fullback who first got his chance with the Cleveland Browns. Agnew was a fan-favorite as a blocker out of the backfield, but the Browns were apparently not all that impressed. Agnew notched nine starts with the Browns before he and the club parted ways. While he has managed to find opportunities with other clubs, Agnew has not played a meaningful down of NFL football since 2014.
4. Charlie Whitehurst
All jokes and cynicism aside, we love Charlie Whitehurst. The son of former NFL quarterback David Whitehurst is probably never going to become a superstar QB in the league. Heck, there’s even a possibility that we may never again see Whitehurst take the field as an active player. We love Whitehurst because of his nickname: “Clipboard Jesus.” Whitehurst earned this name because of his long hair, shaggy beard and because he held a clipboard as a backup QB. Here is hoping we see Clipboard Jesus back on the sidelines for a NFL franchise at some point down the road.
3. Tim Hasselbeck
Matt Hasselbeck, the son of former NFL player Don Hasselbeck, has been an ageless wonder who continued to play for the Indianapolis Colts past his 40th birthday and up through the end of the 2015 regular season. Matt’s brother Tim was not as successful during his career. Tim notched all of five starts while in the NFL, and he was mostly a backup before he vanished from the league. It was not all bad times for this Hasselbeck, though, as he was paid to be the backup for New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Manning has consistently avoided missing starts and thus Hasselbeck was barely needed while he was with the Giants.
2. Matt Simms
It can’t be easy attempting to follow in the footsteps of a father who played in the New York market, who produced a historic performance at a Super Bowl and who is now a color commentator for NFL games that air on national television. Matt Simms, the son of Phil, went undrafted in 2012, and he received only a handful of opportunities while with the New York Jets before he and Gang Green parted ways. There is still some hope that Simms could find success in the NFL. He was signed to the practice squad of the Atlanta Falcons in January 2016.
1. Chris Simms
The most noteworthy moment in the NFL career of Chris Simms was one that could have been fatal. Simms was playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2006 when he was on the receiving end of a brutal hit to the midsection. He toughed it out and remained in the game, but he needed emergency surgery after the game to repair a ruptured spleen that could have resulted in death. Simms was never the same after that day, but the third-round pick had not necessarily played like a franchise QB before that life-changing event. Simms is now retired from the NFL, and he has made appearances on New York sports talk radio station WFAN.
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