NFL: The history of brother vs. brother in pro football

Brother against brother long has been a way of life in the NFL. In honor of John and Jim Harbaugh facing off in the Super Bowl, Berry Tramel takes a look at some of the NFL's more notable brother matchups.
by Berry Tramel Published: January 28, 2013
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photo - Former Cleveland Browns linebacker Clay Matthews, left, watches the final minutes of the Browns' 24-0 loss to the Tennessee Titans with his brother, Titans lineman Bruce Matthews, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2000, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
Former Cleveland Browns linebacker Clay Matthews, left, watches the final minutes of the Browns' 24-0 loss to the Tennessee Titans with his brother, Titans lineman Bruce Matthews, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2000, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Brother against brother is more than just a red-letter warning from the Gospel of Matthew or a Civil War slogan or the theme of Super Bowl XLVII. Brother against brother long has been a way of life in the NFL.

Colts kicker Lou Michaels vs. Jets defensive coordinator Walt Michaels in that historic Super Bowl III.

Fullback Ed Modzelewski, a Cleveland Brown mainstay in the 1950s, against his brother, Dick, a defensive tackle with the Redskins, Steelers and Giants.

Fellow fullbacks Jack Manders (Chicago Bears) and Pug Manders (Brooklyn Dodgers) combating in 1940.

And even as far back as 1921, in the origins of what became the NFL, the Columbus Panhandles sported Ted, Phil, John, Fred and Frank Nesser. Five brothers on the squad, coached by Ted. Those Panhandles didn't win the league title. That honor went to the Akron Pros, coached by Al Nesser, yet another brother.

But now comes the Ravens' John Harbaugh against the 49ers' Jim Harbaugh in a Super Bowl coaching showdown that takes sibling rivalry to new heights.

In honor of the Bayou Brother Bowl, The Oklahoman found some of the most notable brother matchups in NFL history.

LITTLE BROTHER SHINES

Julius Jones spent seven seasons as an NFL tailback. His third-most productive rushing game in those seven seasons came in his third game ever — and his brother was the opposing tailback.

Julius Jones rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries in the Dallas Cowboys' 21-7 victory over Chicago on Thanksgiving Day 2004. The Bears' Thomas Jones, three years older than Julius, that day rushed for 46 yards and had 48 yards receiving.

Thomas Jones had a 12-year career during which he rushed for 10,591 yards, 22nd most in NFL history and more than twice as much as his little brother.

But Julius shined bright the first time he shared an NFL gridiron with his brother.

The Joneses met only one other time. In 2007, the Cowboys pasted Thomas' Jets 34-3. Julius rushed for 46 yards, Thomas for 40.

GETTING THEIR KICKS

NFL kickers have a special bond, a fraternity, if you will. Brothers do, too. So think of the connection between brothers who both are NFL kickers.

The Bahr brothers kicked against each other six times, including the 1982 AFC wild-card game, when Chris' Raiders beat Matt's Browns 27-10. Matt's 52-yard field goal gave Cleveland a 3-3 tie in the first quarter of that game and was symbolic of how his brother brought out the best.

Matt made 10 of 11 field goals in games against Chris' teams; against teams without his brother, he was a career 71.7 percent field-goal kicker.

The Mike-Mayers also kicked against each other six times, from 1975 through 1980. But they didn't foster extra accuracy.

Steve Mike-Mayer made just eight of 14 field goal tries against his brother. Nick Mike-Mayer was just five of nine against his brother, though Nick nailed a 49-yard field goal for the Bills in a 1980 loss against the Colts, setting the NFL record for longest field goal in a game matching brothers as kickers.

But the most notable kicking brothers in NFL history were the Hungarian Gogolaks. Pete Gogolak brought soccer-style kicking to the NFL, and his brother Charlie followed him to the NFL.

The Gogolaks were matched in four games, two each in the 1966 and 1968 seasons. Pete was a Giant, Charlie a Redskin.

Pete made six of 11 field goals against Charlie — not horrible accuracy for that time period — but four of his field goals were less than 20 yards. Charlie was five of nine against Pete.

But the Gogolaks were part of a famous NFL game.

On Nov. 27, 1966, the Redskins routed the Giants. Took a 34-14 halftime lead and a 62-28 lead early in the fourth quarter.

In the final seconds, deep in their own territory, the Giants threw incomplete on fourth down.

With time for one more snap, Washington coach Otto Graham ordered Charlie Gogolak onto the field for a game-ending, 29-yard field goal that gave the Redskins a 72-41 victory.

Brotherly love took a beating that day.

THE MANNINGS

The most-hyped brother rivalry in NFL history concerned the Mannings. Perhaps you've heard of them.

Peyton quarterbacked the Colts for 13 years and reached two Super Bowls, winning one. Now he's Denver's quarterback. Eli has quarterbacked the Giants since 2004 and has two Super Bowl titles himself.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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