Like father, like son: our All-Fathers and All-Sons teams prove that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

Like father, like son: our All-Fathers and All-Sons teams prove that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

Steve Fall

TONY DORSETE LAWrence McCutcheon, and Chuck Foreman each rushed for more than 1.000 yards in 1977. Now, 25 years later, their sons take the field on Sundays. Ironically, though, Anthony Dorsett, Daylon McCutcheon, and Jay Foreman all wound up playing defense.

Altogether, 34 sons of former NFL and AFL players made opening-day rosters this season, 11 of whom were rookies. With many more sons of former NFL players in the college ranks, that number is sure to keep climbing.

All the new additions made it relatively easy for us to complete our Fathers and Sons all-star teams; the accompanying charts reveal the top dads and kids at each position.

Picking the quarterback for the Sons team was no problem. Although Brian Griese is solid, Peyton Manning gets the nod. The Indianapolis Colts star was named to two Pro Bowls in his first four years and will really come of age if his team can ever get its defense together.

Manning says that his dad Archie, a two-time Pro Bowler himself, never pressured him to play football. “He wasn’t going to come to us and say, `All right, you do this, you do that,'” says Manning. “It was more, `Hey, Dad, will you come and play some catch with us?’ He was always very helpful and supportive. I think that’s why still today I have a love for football, because it was fun for me as a kid. I’ve always had a true love for sports, and I think that’s because of the way my dad handled things.”

That love also was passed on to Peyton’s younger brother Eli, who’s now a junior quarterback at Ole Miss. It shouldn’t be long before Eli joins Peyton in the NFL.

It’s rare, though, that so many members from a family wind up playing the same position. The 5’10”, 185-pound Daylon McCutcheon, who lines up at cornerback for the Cleveland Browns, felt he was better-suited physically for that position than the one his old man played. “I know I’ll never be as big as my dad, so cornerback was a more logical position for me than running back,” he says. “People think I chose defense to avoid having to be compared to my father, but that’s not so. People love to see the long run, the deep ball. I love to see interceptions. I love to see fumble recoveries.”

Grant Irons, a rookie defensive end with the Buffalo Bills, switched positions for a similar reason. His dad Gerald was a linebacker in the NFL for 10 seasons in the 1970s.

“A linebacker was what I always wanted to be,” says Grant, who played for Notre Dame. “I looked at my father, and that’s what I wanted to be. But as time went on and my body matured, when I looked in the mirror, everything said, `Defensive end.’ Now I like this position even more than linebacker.”

One position sons of former NFL players don’t seem to like is running back. That was most difficult position to fill for our Sons team. Great running backs abound on the Fathers’ side, but we had to scrounge when it came to the Sons’. One of the backs we settled on was Jim Kiick, who was a fine complement to Larry Csonka with the great Miami Dolphins teams of the early 1970s. Jim’s father George was a defensive back-running back-linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1940 and `45.

Our other running back on the Sons team is Matt Suhey. His career rushing high was just 681 yards (in 1983), but he provided great blocking and was a solid pass-catcher for the Chicago Bears. He also was part of their championship team in 1985.

Suhey was the NFL’s first third-generation player. His father Steve Suhey (1948-49) and grandfather Bob Higgins (1920-23) both played in the league. Colts offensive lineman Jim Pyne is the only other third-generation player. His dad George III (1965) and grandfather George II (1931) both played professionally.

Eric Metcalf drew some consideration at running back for the Sons squad. But he spent about half his career at wide receiver, where he performed better. In fact, he made the team at that position, along with George Sauer Jr., who was one of Joe Namath’s favorite `targets on some excellent New York Jets teams.

The shortage of second-generation running backs probably won’t last long. Some promising ones should join the league in the coming years. Gerald Riggs Jr., whose dad ran for more than 8,000 career yards with the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins, is a freshman running back at the University of Tennessee. The younger Riggs runs behind the child of another former NFL great. Anthony Munoz’s son Michael starts at offensive tackle for the Vols, the same position his Hall of Fame dad played for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Another great Falcons running back from the 1980s has a son brimming with potential. Micah Andrews, William Andrews’ son, plays high school football in the Atlanta area. Several colleges are hotly pursuing the senior running back.

The University of Miami seems to be Sons Central, featuring the offspring of two Hall-of-Famers: sophomore tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. and junior running back Jarrett Payton. Jarrett, the son of the great Walter Payton, has been slowed by injuries throughout his college career and probably won’t make it in the NFL.

If Winslow Jr. reaches the big time, though, he could help fill another weak spot on our teams: tight end. Winslow Jr.’s presence in the NFL would mean his dad could replace Aaron Thomas on the Fathers team. And Winslow Jr. himself wouldn’t have much difficulty stepping into the tight end spot on the Sons team. That position currently is being held by Kris Mangum, a backup for most of his career who’s on our team by default.

We also could use some better specialists. In addition to punting, Danny White (son of Wilford White) also turned in a strong career at quarterback. But no other specialist experienced much success. Bobby Howfield (father of Ian Howfield) managed to play seven seasons as a kicker with the Denver Broncos and Jets, but we couldn’t find a single punter for the Fathers team.

Some positions are loaded with talent. Like we said, Peyton Manning, Brian Griese, Bert Jones, Danny White, and Jeff Kemp make up a formidable group on the Sons’ side. As for the Fathers’, Archie Manning, Jack Kemp, and Bob Griese all had stellar careers. We gave the nod to Griese in a close call.

Also loaded is the running back position on the Fathers team. It starts with the Hall-of-Famer Tony Dorsett, who ran for 12,739 career yards; Chuck Foreman edged out Lawrence McCutcheon for the other spot. McCutcheon had slightly better rushing numbers, but Foreman’s outstanding receiving stats made the difference. Among the others we considered were Terry Metcalf, a dangerous running and receiving threat; Ron Springs, who ran for more than 2,500 yards and once caught 73 passes in a season; and Mel Farr, who had some good years with the Detroit Lions during the late 1960s and early `70s.

Calvin Hill rushed for 1,000 yards twice with the Dallas Cowboys, but his son Grant chose basketball over football, so Calvin obviously couldn’t be considered. The same goes for former NFL line backer Ken Norton Jr., the famed heavyweight boxer’s son. And then there is former Rams wide receiver Jack Snow, whose son J.T. plays first base for the San Francisco Giants.

In only five instances, both a father and son are on our all-star teams. Those duos are: Sam Adams Sr. and Jr., Ernie and Erik McMillan, Rubin and Andre Carter, Ed and Brad Budde, and the Foremans.

Brothers Clay Jr. and Bruce Matthews both made the Sons squad. They each played 19 years and were named to a combined 18 Pro Bowls. Bruce Matthews fled Merlin Olsen for the most Pro Bowls in history (14) and played all five offensive line spots during his brilliant career, finally retiring after the 2001 season. That means this is the first season since 1977 that a Matthews brother hasn’t been on the field. Their father Clay Sr. played for the San Francisco 49ers in the 1950s.

Brothers John and Charley Hannah also made the Sons team. Although he wasn’t nearly as good as his Hall of Fame brother, Charley played 12 NFL seasons.

So who would win if these teams actually squared off?. The dads could control the clock with their superb running backs and Griese’s precision passing. On the other hand, the sons would have a nice aerial attack behind Manning. Call it even offensively.

Defensively, the Fathers team has Hall-of-Famers Bobby Bell Sr., Dave Wilcox, and Ronnie Lott as anchors. But the Sons squad has a stronger line and secondary, featuring a great tackle duo in Ted Washington Jr. and Sam Adams Jr. Since the dads are a little shaky on the line and in’ the defensive backfield, the kids get the defensive edge.

It would be quite a compelling matchup. Too bad it could never happen.

Our All-Fathers Team

OFFENSE

Position Father, years (son, position, years)

Quarterback Bob Griese, 1967-80 (Brian, QB, 1998-2002)

Running back Tony Dorsett, 1977-88 (Anthony, DB, 1996-2002)

Running back Chuck Foreman, 1973-80 (Jay, LB, 1999-2002)

Wide receiver Kevin House, 1980-87 (Kevin Jr., DB, 2002)

Wide receiver Ray Renfro, 1952-63 (Mike, WR, 1978-87)

Tight end Aaron Thomas, 1961-70 (Robb, WR, 1989-98)

Tackle Ernie McMillan, 1961-75 (Erik, DB, 1988-93)

Tackle Willie Young, 1966-75 (Rodney, DB, 1995-98)

Guard Ed Budde, 1963-76 (Brad, G, 1980-86)

Guard Sam Adams Sr,. 1972-81 (Sam Jr., DT, 1994-2002)

Center Irv Goode, 1962-74 (Conrad, OL, 1984-87)

DEFENSE

Position Father, years (son, position, years)

End Julius Adams, 1971-87 (Keith, LB, 2001-02)

End Tony Cline Sr., 1970-77 (Tony Jr., TE, 1995-97)

Tackle Rubin Carter, 1975-86 (Andre, DE, 2001-02)

Tackle Manu Tuiasosopo, 1979-86 (Marques, QB, 2001-02)

Linebacker Bobby Bell Sr., 1963-74 (Bobby Jr., LB, 1984, `87)

Linebacker Gerald Irons, 1970-79 (Grant, DE, 2002)

Linebacker Dave Wilcox, 1964-74 (Josh, TE, 1988)

Cornerback James Hunter, 1976-82 (Javin, WR, 2002)

Cornerback Ronnie Lott, 1981-94 (Ryan Nece, LB, 2002)

Safety Roosevelt Taylor, 1961-72 (Brian, DB-RB, 1989, `91)

Safety Howie Williams, 1962-69 (Gardner, DB, 1984)

SPECIAL TEAMS

Position Father, years (son, position, years)

Kicker Bobby Howfield, 1968-74 (Ian, K, 1991)

Punter NO PLAYERS AVAILABLE

OFFENSE

Position Son, years (father, position, years)

Quarterback Peyton Manning, 1998-2002 (Archie, QB, 1971-84)

Running back Jim Kiick, 1968-77 (George, DB-RB-LB, 1940, `45)

Running back Matt Suhey, 1980-89 (Steve, G, 1948-49)

Wide receiver Eric Metcalf, 1989-2001 (Terry, RB-WR, 1973-77, `81)

Wide receiver George Sauer Jr., 1965-70 (George Sr., RB-DB-LB,

1935-37)

Tight end Kris Mangum, 1997-2002 (John, DT, 1966-67)

Tackle Rich Moran, 1985-93 (Jim, DT, 1964-67)

Tackle Charley Hannah? 1977-88 (Herb, OT, 1951)

Guard Brad Budde, 1980-86 (Ed, G, 1963-76)

Guard John Hannah, 1973-85 (Herb, OT, 1951)

Center Bruce Matthews, 1983-2001 (Clay Sr., DE-DT, 1950,

`53-55)

DEFENSE

Position Son, years (father, position, years)

End Andre Carter, 2001-02 (Rubin, DT, 1975-86)

End Jack Gregory Jr., 1967-79 (Jack Sr., G, 1941)

Tackle Sam Adams Jr., 1994-2002 (Sam Sr., G, 1972-81)

Tackle Ted Washington Jr., 1991-2002 (Ted Sr., LB, 1973-82)

Linebacker Clay Matthews Jr., 1978-96 (Clay Sr., DE-DT, 1950,

`53-55)

Linebacker Jay Foreman, 1999-2002 (Chuck, RB, 1973-80)

Linebacker Billy Ray Smith Jr., 1983-92 (Billy Ray Sr., DT-DE,

1957-70)

Cornerback Chris McAlister, 1999-2002 (James, RB, 1975-76, `78)

Cornerback Shawn Springs, 1997-2002 (Ron, RB, 1979-86)

Safety Brock Marion, 1993-2002 (Jerry, WR, 1967)

Safety Erik McMillan, 1988-93 (Ernie, OT, 1961-75)

SPECIAL TEAMS

Position Son, years (father, position, years)

Kicker Bruce Alford, 1967-69 (Bruce Sr., WR-DB, 1946-49)

Punter Danny White, 1976-87 (Wilford, RB, 1951-52)

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