By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
Only 6.5 percent of high school football players wind up playing college ball. Of that number, only 1.6 percent land a spot in the NFL. So imagine the odds of two brothers reaching the sport’s highest level. But it is not as uncommon as you may think. In fact, the University of Hawaii sent three Noga siblings – Niko, Pete and Al – to the NFL in the 1980s. We scoured the history books and came up with our Top Ten brother duos to play in the league:
10. SAM and RANDALL CUNNINGHAM. Sam “Bam” Cunningham was a bruising RB for the New England Patriots and finished his 10-year career as the franchise’s career rushing leader. Younger brother Randall became a star QB for the Philadelphia Eagles; his running and passing abilities made him a forerunner for future QBs such as Michael Vick and Lamar Jackson. Interesting fact: The two brothers were born 13 years apart and never played in the league together.
9. MAURKICE and MIKE POUNCEY. It’s safe to say that the NFL has never had a better set of twins brothers who play center. Maurkice, who recently retired after a lengthy career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was the more accomplished of the two (8x Pro Bowl, 2x First-Team All-Pro selections), but Mike, who was born one minute before Maurkice, was also highly regarded (4 Pro Bowl selections).
8. LARRY and DAVID LITTLE. Larry is one of the greatest offensive guards in the history of football. He anchored the Miami Dolphins’ line that opened holes for the likes of Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris in the early- to mid-1970s. He was named to the Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro 5 times and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Younger brother David (by 14 years) played 12 seasons at linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
7. JOEY and NICK BOSA. Okay, maybe we’re ranking them a bit too high here. After all, Nick is just in his second season in the league. But by the time these defensive end studs are done, the two Ohio State alums may actually move up on this list. In five NFL seasons, Joey has been selected to the Pro Bowl three times and earned Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Meanwhile, Nick was the 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year after having 9 sacks and helping the 49ers reach the Super Bowl that season.
6. JJ and TJ WATT. Few players have terrorized NFL QBs quite like JJ Watt, a 3x Defensive Player of the Year honoree. Watt is also a 5x Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro selection. In his 10 seasons with the Houston Texans, Watt amassed 101 sacks, 61 pass deflections and 25 forced fumbles. JJ is now with the Arizona Cardinals. Younger brother TJ, a linebacker with the Pittsburgh Steelers, is already a 3x Pro Bowler and a 2x First-Team All-Pro selection. A third brother, Derek Watt, is a fullback with the Steelers.
5. JASON and TRAVIS KELCE. Older brother Jason has established himself as a top-level Center with the Philadelphia Eagles, earning Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors three times in his 10 seasons. Travis, meanwhile, may be the best tight end in football (with apologies to George Kittle and Darren Waller). The younger sibling has made 6 Pro Bowl appearances and has been named First-Team All-Pro three times. Both brothers have Super Bowl rings.
4. TIKI and RONDE BARBER. The best set of twins to ever play football. Tiki rushed for 10,449 yards in his career and remains the New York Giants’ all-time leader in rushing yards. Ronde was a stellar cornerback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, helping the team win Super Bowl XXXVII. Combined, the twins were selected to the Pro Bowl 9 times and named First-Team All-Pro 4 times.
3. STERLING and SHANNON SHARPE. Sterling was a star receiver for the Packers and was the first to post back-to-back seasons of 100+ receptions. Younger brother Shannon is a Hall of Fame tight end who won three Super Bowl rings with the Broncos and Ravens. Combined, the Sharpes have 13 Pro Bowl and 7 First-Team All-Pro selections.
2. BRUCE and CLAY MATTHEWS. Older brother Clay played 19 seasons in the NFL (Cleveland, Atlanta), and was a 4x Pro Bowler. Bruce is regarded as one of the greatest offensive lineman in league history, earning 14 Pro Bowl and 9 First-Team selections.
1. PEYTON and ELI MANNING. Is there any doubt? Each brother won two Super Bowls. Peyton is a guaranteed Hall of Famer, and it’s likely younger brother Eli will get the nod as well. Peyton is a 14x Pro Bowl and 7x First-Team All-Pro selection. Eli is a 4x Pro Bowl honoree. Combined, the brothers passed for 128,963 yards in their NFL careers. That’s like throwing the ball from Waianae to Hawaii Kai, and then back to Pearl City.
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