While the accomplishments of Peyton and Eli Manning, Super Bowl winners who met for the second time on an NFL field, on Sunday night in Indianapolis, are admirable, that duo does not constitute the greatest brother act in the history of the NFL. The amazingly durable Matthews brothers take that honor. In addition to the Mannings, here are the five other most notable NFL brother acts.
This is an article from the Sept. 27, 2010 issue
CLAY MATTHEWS, LB, 1978--96
BRUCE MATTHEWS, OL, 1983--2001
Between them the Matthews brothers played 574 NFL games over 38 seasons, had 18 Pro Bowl selections and one Hall of Fame induction (Bruce, in 2007). Both are among the top three in games played at their positions. And the football gene is passed to the next generation: Clay Matthews Jr. is a Green Bay linebacker who leads the NFL with six sacks in just two games this year, and his brother Casey is a starting senior linebacker at Oregon.
STERLING SHARPE, WR, 1988--94
SHANNON SHARPE, TE, 1990--2003
Shannon's 815 catches were the most in history by a tight end until Tony Gonzalez surpassed the mark in 2007, and Sterling might have approached 1,000 receptions (he had 595) playing with Brett Favre in Green Bay if a neck injury hadn't forced him to retire at 29. Both Sharpes were power players and trendsetters at their positions.
ROSS BROWNER, DL, 1978--87
JIM BROWNER, DB, 1979--80
JOEY BROWNER, DB, 1983--92
KEITH BROWNER, LB, 1984--88
The four Browner brothers totaled 27 NFL seasons for nine franchises. Most notable among the quartet were Joey, a six-time Pro Bowl safety for the Vikings in the '80s and '90s, and Ross, the Bengals' best defensive lineman of the late '70s and early '80s.
AL NESSER, OL, 1920--28, '31
FRANK NESSER, FB, 1920--26
FRED NESSER, E, 1921
JOHN NESSER, OL, 1921
PHIL NESSER, OL, 1920--21
TED NESSER, OL, 1920--21
Six brothers! Five played on one of the original NFL teams, the Columbus Panhandles, in 1921. Al—a guard, end and center—had the longest career, playing 10 seasons for three teams.
RONDE BARBER, CB, 1997--present
TIKI BARBER, RB, 1997--2006
The only identical twins in this group, the Barber brothers have combined to play 24 seasons (and Ronde may make it 25 next year; Bucs coach Raheem Morris loves him). In something of an oddity in today's football, each played for a single franchise. Tiki (below, left) is the Giants' alltime rushing leader by a 3,552-yard margin, and Ronde (right) is a three-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl pick for Tampa Bay.