The pigskin doesn’t roll far from the pileup


The adage “like father like son,” rings true in the National Football League. As the NFL’s 2009 regular season kicks off, fans will be reminded that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

There have been 174 father-son combinations in the NFL’s 89-year history. The list consists of such names as Farr, Hasselbeck, Kramer, Manning, and Klecko. In even includes Hall of Fame names like Dorsett, Shula, and Winslow.

Potentially seven more combos will be added to the list after this weekend’s games if, and when, these rookies take the field: Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd; Dallas Cowboys kicker David Buehler; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Chase Coffman; Seattle Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry; Chicago Bears defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Brian Robiskie and last but not least Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews.

Clay Matthews
Sr. Jr. III
On Sunday night Matthews and the Green Bay Packers take on their division rival the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. Once Matthews sees action in his first regular season game, he will provide a historical notation of being a third generation from the same family to play in an NFL regular season game. 

The Matthews family will take its place in NFL history as just the third family to produce three generations of NFL players.   They may just be the most prestigious lineage of pro football players ever.  It all began with Clay Matthews, Sr., a two-way lineman, who played four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers from 1950, 1953-55.  His sons Clay Matthews, Jr. and Bruce Matthews not only followed in their father’s footsteps with their own NFL careers, they expanded on them.  Clay Jr. played linebacker for 19 seasons in the NFL from 1978-1993 with the Cleveland Browns and 1994-96 with the Atlanta Falcons. His brother Bruce also played 19 seasons in the NFL as a guard, center, and a tackle for the Houston/Tennessee Oilers/Titans from 1983-2001. He earned enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.

“I can’t say I didn’t expect it,” Clay, Sr. said about his grandson’s impending career in the NFL.  “I think there’s another three generations behind them that might be playing someday.”

More Matthews family members may soon find their way to the NFL. Clay’s brother Casey is a linebacker at Oregon and Bruce’s son Kevin is the starting center at Texas A&M.

The NFL’s first three-generation family happened when Matt Suhey lined up at fullback for the Chicago Bears in 1980.  He followed his father Steve who had played guard for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1948-49, and his maternal grandfather Bob Higgins an end for the Canton Bulldogs from 1920-21. Higgins’ teammates over those two seasons included Hall of Fame legends Joe Guyon, Wilbur “Pete” Henry, and Jim Thorpe.

The Pyne family became the second third generation family and first family to have two genetic father-son relationships.  The family’s first pro football player was George Pyne, Jr. who played one season with the 1931 Providence Steamroller.  George Jr.’s son George Pyne III played the 1965 season with the AFL’s Boston Patriots. Finally, George III’s son Jim completed the Pyne family’s place in history during the 1995 season while playing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In all, Jim Pyne played eight seasons with four different clubs.

All-time list of father/son combinations>>>  

Back to news