Greatest NFL Families
The NFL has seen many generations of football players since the league was born in 1920. According to Pro Football Reference, over 26,000 players have suited up for at least one NFL game, and some of them were related.
But which NFL family is the best of the best? Which family has both a high quantity of NFL players and a high quality of great players? We have combed through NFL family trees to get the answer.
These are the the greatest NFL families of all time.
Note: Families need at least three related members to qualify. Thus, we can only give honorable mentions to the Bennett brothers, Grieses, and Uncle Keyshawn Johnson and his nephew Michael Thomas.
25. Simms Family
Primary players: Phil Simms, Chris Simms, John "Shipwreck" Kelly
Years active: 1979-present
Did you know: John Simms Kelly got his nickname of "Shipwreck" from Alvin "Shipwreck" Kelly, who was a famous pole sitter (as in flagpoles and other high perches) in the 1920s.
Bottom line: The Simms are the poor man’s version of the Mannings with one quarterback father and two quarterback sons.
Phil Simms won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants and owned nearly all of the franchise’s passing records until Eli Manning broke them. Both of Phil’s sons were also NFL quarterbacks although they didn’t have nearly the success that their dad had. Chris and Matt Simms combined to throw just 13 touchdowns in their NFL careers while Phil had 10 such seasons with that many.
A distant relative of the Simms family was Shipwreck Kelly, who led the NFL with 22 receptions in the 1933 season.
24. Zendejas Family
Primary players: Tony Zendejas, Luis Zendejas, Max Zendejas, Joaquin Zendejas
Years active: 1983-95
Did you know: While the four Zendejas cousins all went to the same high school in Southern California, they elected to go to four different colleges.
Bottom line: The Zendejas family is a group of kickers who made their way to the NFL via Mexico in the 1980s. Nine of the last 12 Mexican-born NFL players have been kickers, and nearly half of those were a Zendejas.
Brothers Joaquin, Luis and Max combined to make 71 field goals during their careers, but none of them played in more than three NFL seasons.
The trio’s cousin, Tony, had the best pro career. He lasted 11 years in the NFL and made 186 field goals. Tony’s brother Marty made it onto the Rams' practice squad but never played in a game, keeping the Zendejas tally at four.
23. Hasselbeck Family
Primary players: Matt Hasselbeck, Don Hasselbeck, Tim Hasselbeck
Years active: 1977-2015
Did you know: Don Hasselbeck was a Patriots teammate of Mosi Tatupu, and their sons, Matt and Lofa, also became NFL teammates.
Bottom line: You can thank former NFL tight end Don Hasselbeck for the presence of his Hasselbeck sons all over ESPN. Don spent most of his career with the Patriots but received the only Super Bowl ring of his career by joining the 1983 Raiders.
Matt never won a ring but was a three-time Pro Bowler and still holds many Seahawks franchise records. Younger brother Tim had the shortest career as a journeyman backup quarterback who bounced from team to team and practice squad to practice squad.
He suited up for seven different NFL teams while throwing a total of five touchdown passes.
22. Kearse Family
Primary players: Jevon Kearse, Phillip Buchanon, Jayron Kearse
Years active: 1999-present
Did you know: Jevon Kearse began his college career at Florida as a 215-pound safety, and he ended it as a 265-pound defensive end.
Bottom line: Nicknamed "The Freak," Jevon Kearse was a combine workout warrior who could play as well. He recorded 74 sacks in his career and still holds the NFL record for sacks as a rookie (14.5).
His nephew Jayron, a safety with the Minnesota Vikings, is a physical freak as well as at 6 feet, 4 inches and currently is the tallest defensive back in the NFL.
Jevon’s cousin Phillip Buchanon may not have had the freakish physical attributes of the Kearses, but he also was an exciting cornerback and return man who was nicknamed "Showtime." In 2003 with the Raiders, Buchanon finished second on the team with four touchdowns, despite not playing a single snap on offense.
21. Taylor Family
Primary players: Bobby Taylor, Hosea Taylor, Kris Boyd
Years active: 1981-present
Did you know: The most accomplished athlete in the Taylor family didn’t play in the NFL. Bobby’s father, Robert, won two Olympic medals as a sprinter.
Bottom line: The Taylor family runs four deep with NFL players although only two are named Taylor. Bobby Taylor was a Pro Bowl cornerback for the Eagles, and his uncle Hosea played in the 1980s.
Bobby’s cousin is fellow cornerback Kris Boyd, who was drafted in 2019 by the Minnesota Vikings. Another cousin of Boyd is Curtis Brown, who is also a cornerback and spent three years with the Steelers.
All four of the Taylor/Boyd/Brown clan grew up in East Texas, and all of them except Bobby went to college in Texas as well.
20. Kupp Family
Primary players: Jake Kupp, Craig Kupp, Cooper Kupp
Years active: 1964-present
Did you know: A fourth Kupp could be on the way. Ketner, Cooper’s brother, andhas spent time on the Rams' offseason squad.
Bottom line: The Kupps are one of two families on this list with three generations of players. Jake Kupp got it started as a lineman in the 1960s and 70s. After bouncing through four different teams, and one of those even trying him at tight end, he found his calling as a guard and became a Pro Bowler.
His son Craig just had a cup of coffee in the NFL but got to share a quarterback’s meeting room with Troy Aikman on the 1991 Dallas Cowboys.
The NFL’s current Kupp is Craig’s son Cooper, who is a receiver for the Rams.
19. Barber Family
Primary players: Marion Barber III, Dominique Barber, Peyton Barber
Years active: 1982-present
Did you know: Marion Barber Jr. scored three rushing touchdowns in his entire seven-year career while his son Marion III once had three touchdowns in a single game.
Bottom line: No, this isn’t the Barber twins, Ronde and Tiki, since they are one member shy of qualifying for this list. These Barbers are led by Marion III, who was a Pro Bowl running back for the Cowboys in the 2000s.
Nicknamed "Marion the Barbarian," he had a bruising running style that endeared him to fans and had a penchant for the end zone, which endeared him to fantasy owners.
His brother, Dominique, was a safety who also played in Texas at the same time, except as a member of the Texans. Marion and Dominique’s father also played in the league as does their cousin, Peyton, a running back for the Buccaneers.
18. Blades Family
Primary players: Bennie Blades, Brian Blades, H.B. Blades
Years active: 1988-2010
Did you know: The next Blades, Al Blades Jr., plays for the Miami Hurricanes as did his father and uncles.
Bottom line: Bennie and Brian Blades won a championship together at the University of Miami before both were selected in the 1988 NFL draft.
They spent a decade as opponents with Brian as a receiver for the Seahawks and Bennie as a safety for the Lions, but they were reunited in 1997, 10 years after they last played together. Bennie joined Detroit for the final season of his career, and Brian retired the following year.
A third brother, Al, likely would have joined them, but he died in a car crash while on the 49ers' practice squad and never appeared in an NFL game.
17. Colquitt Family
Primary players: Craig Colquitt, Dustin Colquitt, Britton Colquitt
Years active: 1978-present
Did you know: The Colquitts have punted for more than 102,000 yards combined in their careers.
Bottom line: What the Mannings are to quarterbacks, the Colquitts are to punters. The four Colquitt punters have punted for over 100,000 combined yards in the NFL after they all matriculated from the University of Tennessee.
Craig was the first and won two Super Bowls with the Steel Curtain Steelers while his nephew Jimmy had a cup of coffee in the NFL in 1985.
Craig’s two sons are both still in the NFL. Dustin is a two-time Pro Bowler, and Britton won a Super Bowl with the Broncos.
16. Wisniewski Family
Primary players: Leo Wisniewski, Steve Wisniewski, Stefen Wisniewski
Years active: 1982-present
Did you know: Steve Wisniewski was known for his rough play and was almost unanimously voted the dirtiest player in the AFC West during his playing days.
Bottom line: The Wisniewski brothers, Leo and Steve, were eight years apart, so they never got a chance to play with or against each other.
Leo was a nose tackle whose career ended after a torn ACL in 1985, and Steve was an offensive guard who made eight Pro Bowls with the Raiders.
Stefen is Leo’s son and Steve’s nephew, and followed Uncle Steve as an offensive lineman and Raider. Stefen was a second-round pick by the team in 2011 and became the first Wisniewski to win a Super Bowl ring after starting for the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles.
15. Edmunds Family
Primary players: Ferrell Edmunds, Tremaine Edmunds, Terrell Edmunds
Years active: 1988-present
Did you know: Youngest son Tremaine is the youngest player to be drafted in NFL history and was just 19 years old when he was selected in 2018.
Bottom line: There is a bit of an ACC rivalry amongst the Edmunds. Patriarch Ferrell and oldest son Trey went to Maryland while middle son Terrell and youngest son Tremaine went to Virginia Tech.
Nonetheless, Ferrell is proud that he sent three sons to the NFL, and they all are active players and get to cherish this experience together.
Trey and Terrell even get to share the same locker room as teammates on the Steelers while Tremaine was a 2018 first-round pick by the Buffalo Bills.
14. Gronkowski Family
Primary players: Rob Gronkowski, Dan Gronkowski, Chris Gronkowski
Years active: 2009-18
Did you know: All of the Gronkowski brothers appeared on an episode of "Shark Tank," and their Ice Shaker business received a $150,000 investment from Mark Cuban and Alex Rodriguez.
Bottom line: What’s scarier than one Gronk? How about four Gronks, and they all reportedly have the same personality as the most famous brother — Rob Gronkowski.
Rob was the third Gronk to come along and had the best career by far as many consider him to be the greatest tight end in NFL history. For five games in 2011, Rob was able to play with his oldest brother Dan, who also is a tight end.
The other two Gronks, Chris (second-oldest) and Glenn (youngest), were the smaller of the Gronks, and thus they played fullback instead of tight end.
While Rob scored 80 touchdowns in his career, his three brothers combined to score all of one NFL touchdown.
13. Hannah Family
Primary players: John Hannah, Herb Hannah, Charley Hannah
Years active: 1951-88
Did you know: All three Hannahs played for Bear Bryant at Alabama, and Bryant called John the greatest linemen he’s ever coached.
Bottom line: John Hannah wasn’t the first Hannah to play in the NFL. He was just the best.
The Hall of Fame guard was a nine-time Pro Bowler and seven-time first-team All-Pro during his 13 years with the Patriots. During the peak of his career in 1981, Sports Illustrated labeled him the best offensive lineman of all time.
John’s brother Charley was a contemporary along the line and had a solid 12-year career with the Buccaneers and Raiders. Their father, Herb, was the first Hannah, and he spent one season in the NFL with the 1951 New York Giants.
12. Fuller Family
Primary players: Kyle Fuller, Kendall Fuller, Vincent Fuller
Years active: 2005-present
Did you know: While all four Fuller brothers attended Virginia Tech, only two of the four went to the same high school. The others went to two separate high schools.
Bottom line: The Fuller brothers span 13 years in age from the oldest to the youngest, so it seems like a Fuller assembly line for the past 15 NFL seasons.
Vincent is at least eight years older than the rest of the clan while the other three are all within five years of each other. Vincent last played in 2011 with the Lions, and two years later, the team drafted Corey, who is the only wide receiver in the group.
Kyle and Kendall are the two active Fullers, and like Vincent, they are also defensive backs.
11. Brown Family
Primary players: Antonio Brown, Marquise Brown, Kenbrell Thompkins
Years active: 2010-present
Did you know: Antonio (Central Michigan) and Kenbrell (Cincinnati) both played for Butch Jones in college but in different locations.
Bottom line: When Antonio Brown signed with the Patriots in 2019, many didn’t realize that he already had some intel on the organization thanks to his cousin who played two seasons with the team. Kenbrell Thompkins spent 2013 and 2014 with the team and caught four touchdown passes from Tom Brady.
Of course, Antonio is the star of the family, although he’s been making more headlines off the field rather than on it as of late.
A star in the making is Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, who is Antonio’s cousin and got his nickname from the town where he grew up, Hollywood, Florida, on the outskirts of Miami.
10. Lynch Family
Primary players: Marshawn Lynch, JaMarcus Russell, Josh Johnson
Years active: 1987-present
Did you know: Marshawn Lynch is not related to Marcus Peters, even though both of them are from Oakland and refer to each other as "cousins."
Bottom line: The two most famous members of the Lynch family don’t require a surname for NFL fans to recognize them. There is Marshawn, aka "Beast Mode," who was one of the best running backs of his era, in addition to being one of the best interviews of all time.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is JaMarcus, aka one of the biggest draft busts of all time. JaMarcus Russell is cousins with Lynch and was arguably more talented than Lynch, although he wasted that talent.
Another Lynch cousin is quarterback Josh Johnson, who was drafted one year and 159 spots lower than Russell, but still managed to stick around long enough to start games in the NFL in 2018.
9. Bosa Family
Primary players: John Bosa, Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa
Years active: 1987-present
Did you know: With John, Joey and Nick, the Bosas join the Mannings as the only families to have three members drafted in the first round.
Bottom line: While there are just three Bosas, there are six members of this family due to marriage. Joey and Nick are terrorizing opposing backfields today, and their father, John, also was a defensive end selected in the first round in 1987.
Nick and Joey’s mom is the sister of Eric Kumerow, who was also an Ohio State standout and played three years in the NFL. Both Kumerow’s father and uncle also played in the NFL, which means for Joey and Nick, their father, their uncle, their grandfather and their great-uncle all laced up cleats in the league.
8. Cromartie Family
Primary players: Antonio Cromartie, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Marcus Cromartie
Years active: 2006-present
Did you know: There is one other Cromartie played in the NFL, Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith, but he revealed that he is not related to the other Cromarties.
Bottom line: From 2014 to 2016, roughly 10 percent of all NFL teams had a Cromartie at cornerback. Antonio patrolled the sidelines for three different teams during that time while cousin Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC) was with the New York Giants.
Another cousin, Marcus Cromartie, played for the 49ers, although he never reached the same levels of success as his two cousins. Both Antonio and DRC were multi-time Pro Bowlers, including with the same team, as DRC made the Pro Bowl with the Cardinals in 2009 and Antonio did the same with the team in 2014.
7. Geathers Family
Primary players: Jumpy Geathers, Robert Geathers, Clayton Geathers
Years active: 1984-present
Did you know: Despite playing a combined 36 seasons and counting, none of the Geathers have ever had a Pro Bowl season.
Bottom line: The Geathers family has been breeding NFL defensive linemen since the 1980s. The first was Jumpy Geathers, who then gave way to four nephews that made the NFL.
Robert is the most well-known of those, and he played 11 seasons with the Bengals from 2004 to 2014. His two brothers combined to play for eight seasons, and all three brothers were in the league together in 2013 and 2014.
Finally, their cousin Clayton broke free from the defensive linemen label and is currently the starting strong safety for the Indianapolis Colts.
6. Rolle Family
Primary players: Samari Rolle, Antrel Rolle, Brian Rolle
Years active: 1998-2015
Did you know: While it’s been reported that the Rolles are related to Chad Johnson, they are not related, but Samari was Johnson's high school teammate.
Bottom line: Before there were the Cromarties roaming secondaries, there were the Rolles, led by cousins Samari and Antrel. The two combined for 57 interceptions and four Pro Bowls as both players suited up for 11 NFL seasons.
Another cousin, Brian Rolle, had cornerback height at 5 feet, 10 inches, but he loved the weight room too much and ended up as a linebacker instead of a defensive back. He played two NFL seasons, which is two more than Myron Rolle, who never appeared in a regular-season game.
Myron is best remembered for being a Rhodes Scholar while at Florida State and is currently in a neurosurgery residency at Harvard Medical School.
5. Watt Family
Primary players: J.J. Watt, T.J. Watt, Derek Watt
Years active: 2011-present
Did you know: T.J. and Derek were both only three-star college recruits while the best Watt brother, J.J., was just a two-star.
Bottom line: The Watts are led by oldest brother J.J., who already has his bust in Canton, Ohio, in the works as a three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner.
J.J. started out as a tight end in college before converting to defensive end, and the exact same transition happened for youngest brother T.J. He already has established himself as more than being J.J.’s brother and was named a Pro Bowler in just his second season.
The middle brother Derek not only lacks a J in his name like his brothers, but also stayed on offense unlike his brothers. He is a fullback with the Chargers, where he blocks for his former Wisconsin backfield-mate, Melvin Gordon.
4. Long Family
Primary players: Howie Long, Chris Long, Kyle Long
Years active: 1981-present
Did you know: Chris Long is one of five players in NFL history to win back-to-back Super Bowls for different teams.
Bottom line: With Chris Long’s victory in Super Bowl LI, he and Howie became the seventh father-son duo to each win a Super Bowl title. The Longs and the Grieses are the only Hall of Fame Super Bowl champion fathers with sons who hoisted their own Lombardi trophies.
Chris copied his father in both team success and with the defensive end position, while younger son Kyle has neither of those qualities. He is an offensive lineman for the Bears but has yet to win a postseason game in his seven-year career.
3. Nesser Family
Primary players: Al Nesser, Frank Nesser, John Nesser
Years active: 1920-31
Did you know: There was one other Nesser brother, Pete, who had no interest in playing football despite being the biggest at 350 pounds.
Bottom line: The Nesser brothers ran seven deep and worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad before giving football a shot when the NFL formed.
All but one of the brothers were over 30 years old during the NFL’s inaugural season, and some even suited up in their 40s. Because of their advanced ages, only the two youngest Nessers played more than two NFL seasons, but all six played together on the 1921 Columbus Panhandles.
Outside of the six brothers, three other members of the family made it to the NFL, including one brother-in-law and two nephews.
2. Manning Family
Primary players: Archie Manning, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning
Years active: 1971-present
Did you know: The third generation of Mannings is on the way as Arch Manning, the nephew of Peyton and Eli, started at quarterback as a high school freshman, which is something his uncles never accomplished.
Bottom line: While calling the Mannings the first family of Football seems a little presumptuous, it’s hard to argue that they are not the first family of quarterbacks.
Archie was the second overall pick and his two sons, Peyton and Eli, each did him one better by being the top overall picks in their respective drafts. Each member went to multiple Pro Bowls, and the three of them combined for 20 Pro Bowls and four Super Bowl wins.
The best player is Peyton, who redefined the quarterback position with his pre-snap reads and line of scrimmage audibles. He retired as the league’s all-time passing leade,r and his five NFL MVPs remain a record.
1. Matthews Family
Primary players: Bruce Matthews, Clay Matthews Jr., Clay Matthews III
Years active: 1950-present
Did you know: Bruce Matthews and his brother Clay Jr. hold the records for most NFL games by an offensive lineman and linebacker, respectively.
Bottom line: No other family can match the depth and excellence of the Matthews clan, which makes them the first family of football.
Three different generations (so far) have passed through the NFL dating back to Clay Sr., who played four seasons in the 1950s with service time in the Korean War in between.
His eldest son Clay Jr. was a four-time Pro Bowler ,who has the third-most tackles in NFL history, while younger son Bruce is on the short list for the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history. Bruce racked up 14 Pro Bowls, an NFL record, and played all five positions along the line.
The third generation consists of Clay Matthews III, who is the Packers’ franchise leader in sacks and could be headed to Canton as well. Clay’s cousin Jake is a Pro Bowl lineman with the Falcons, and two other third-generation Matthews have also played in the NFL.
Rounding out the Matthews family is a non-Matthews, Troy Niklas, Bruce’s nephew by way of marriage.
So eight different players from a single family have played in the NFL.