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Plenty of history for fathers, sons and NFL football

Perhaps an endearing and nostalgic image of a father and son playing catch with the pigskin never adorned the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.

Nevertheless, it's a tradition and a piece of Americana: fathers, sons and football.

Just how exceptional an athlete must be to make it all the way into the NFL is astounding, but it's all the more exceptional to behold when fathers and sons have each adorned NFL jerseys.

Indeed, as Father's Day is celebrated on Sundays, there's a fine chronicle of dads and their sons connected by Sundays of NFL football.

It's a lineage that was celebrated amid first-ever fashion in the second-to-last game of the 2019 NFL season, as San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan went right past his father Mike's handshake attempt and in for the hug in the aftermath of the Niners' NFC Conference Championship win over the Packers.

Notable Fathers & Sons

2020 NFL Draft

(per NFL Research)

Father                      * *Son (Overall Pick)

NFL DT Montae Reagor PHI WR Jalen Reagor (#21)

NFL RB Michael Pittman Sr.    IND WR Michael Pittman Jr. (#34)

NFL CB Antoine Winfield Sr.   TB S Antoine Winfield Jr. (#45)

NFL WR Shawn Jefferson        LAR WR Van Jefferson (#57)

NFL RB Darick Holmes          NYG CB Darnay Holmes (#110)

NFL OL Andy Heck              HOU T Charlie Heck (#126)

TEN OL Brad Hopkins           LAR TE Brycen Hopkins (#136)

NFL S Johnnie Johnson        JAX WR Collin Johnson (#165)

NFL OT Jon Runyan             GB G Jon Runyan (#192)

NFL FB James Hodgins          BUF WR Isaiah Hodgins (#207)

With the 49ers' win propelling them into the Super Bowl against the Chiefs, Mike and Kyle Shanahan became the first father and son to each appear in a Super Bowl as head coaches in NFL lore, per NFL Research.

Though Kyle Shanahan's 49ers were defeated, the Chiefs' win allowed further father-son celebration.

Perhaps the greatest punting family of all-time, the Colquitts had previously set father-son Super Bowl history. A Super Bowl XIII and XIV winner, former Steelers punter Craig Colquitt is the first Super Bowl champion to have two sons win a Super Bowl as a player. Dustin Colquitt's win with the Chiefs followed brother Britton's triumph with the Broncos in 2020.

Upcoming is the Hall of Fame Centennial Class of 2020, which will see a third set of fathers and sons enshrined. NFL Films' Steve Sabol will be posthumously inducted and join his father Ed. Previous to their hallowed honor, the father-son combos of the Steelers Art and Dan Rooney and Tim and Wellington Mara of the Giants had been enshrined.

Howie Long and his sons Chris and Kyle were each taken inside the first two rounds of the NFL draft and combined for three Super Bowl wins and 11 Pro Bowl trips.

Currently one of the game's best – and maybe most underrated – pass rushers, Saints defensive end Cam Jordan has five Pro Bowls to his credit – one less than his dad Steve had as a tight end for the Vikings.

Clay Matthews has been a name in the NFL for quite some time. A six-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion with the Packers, the most recent Clay Mathews played last year with the Rams. His father played an astronomical 19 seasons in the NFL, 16 with the Browns which included four Pro Bowl trips and had another son – Casey – who played four years in the NFL. And it started with the current Clay's grandfather, who played four seasons with the 49ers from 1950-1955, and had two sons, including Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, follow his lead.

And, of course, there's the NFL royalty that is the Mannings. Begun with father Archie Manning, whose underrated talent was largely smothered amid some very bad Saints teams in the 1970s, the Manning family became synonymous with the NFL for the last two decades with Peyton and Eli taking center stage. With Eli retiring this past offseason, Archie, Peyton and Eli finished their careers having combined for 20 Pro Bowls, four Super Bowl wins, two Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year accolades, 48 seasons, 653 games, 152,874 passing yards and 1,030 passing touchdowns.  

The rich tradition of fathers, sons and NFL football is one that looks to continue until the sun grows cold.

Just a few months ago in the 2020 NFL Draft, wide receiver Jalen Reagor was taken in the first round by the Eagles and followed in the footsteps of his father Montae Reagor, a former NFL defensive tackle. Colts second-rounder Michael Pittman Jr., a wide receiver, joined his dad Michael Pittman Sr., a running back, in the NFL family and so too did Buccaneers second-round safety Antoine Winfield Jr., whose father Antoine Sr. was a standout cornerback for myriad autumns.

More followed the paths put forth by the fathers – players like van Jefferson, Darnay Holmes, Jon Runyan and on and on. And more will, as fathers, sons and football continue to build nostalgia and memories in a long-standing NFL history.

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