Players Follow Dads to Pro Bowl

A trio of football players (no, not that football, we mean American Handegg) will be going where their fathers were once before: The Pro Bowl.

The 2013 Pro Bowl roster includes Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, New England Patriots gunner, special teams captain Matthew Slater, and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who all have family ties with the sport and event.

Matthews, Slater and Manning become three of only six father-son duos in history to each make it to a Pro Bowl. While we can’t chalk it up to anything more than coincidence, we do love seeing dads come out of the woodwork from time to time.

Here’s today’s not-at-all creepy background check:

Clay Matthews

Clay Matthews III and his father, right before s**t got real.

Clay Matthews III wasn’t always a giant human being. His father, the defensive coordinator for Clay’s Southern California high school team (oh, and a four-time Pro Bowler for the Cleveland Browns) refused to start his son because he wasn’t as big as some of the other players. After working hard (and working out), Clay followed his father’s footsteps, becoming a walk-on player for the USC Trojans football team (2004-2008). Matthews was drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers, and his other career achievements (including past Pro Bowl selections, am All-Pro selection and a Butkus Award) helped the Packers win Super Bowl XLV in February of 2011.

The Pro Bowl line doesn’t stop at dad, Clay Matthews Jr. Bruce Matthews, uncle of Clay III, was lineman for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise and played in a record 14 consecutive Pro Bowls. And though not a Pro Bowler, grandfather, Clay Sr., also did his time in the NFL, playing for the San Francisco 49ers in the 1950’s. Clay III also has brothers and cousins playing football in pro and collegiate levels.

Jackie Slater

Jackie Slater. Don’t ask.

Matthew Slater also has roots in Southern California. After a storied run on his high school team (and after securing still-standing records for the 100 and 200 meters on the track and field team), Slater moved onto the UCLA Bruins football team (2003-2007), where his injury-hampered slow-start turned into UCLA records for kickoff returns (34), return yards (986), and return touchdowns (3) in 2007. Slater was drafted in the fifth round 2008 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots, and has enjoyed a prosperous career there since.

Matthew’s father, Jackie Slater, is a former NFL Hall of Fame offensive lineman who played 20 years for the Los Angeles Rams (okay, okay…his final year was for the St. Louis Rams). Jackie was a seven-time Pro Bowler throughout his career.

Peyton Manning led a celebrated high school career in New Orleans, Louisiana. He surprised friends and family when he chose to attend the University of Tennessee instead of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), his father’s alma mater. Peyton had a somewhat rocky college career in Tennessee, and the team saw uneven success, despite Peyton earning numerous individual achievements, including first-team All-American, winning the Maxwell Award, the Davey O’Brien Award, the Johnny Unitas Award, and the Best College Player ESPY award. Peyton even finished his degree in three years, and opted out of entering the 1997 NFL Draft, where he was projected to be the top pick.

Peyton & Archie Manning

Peyton & Archie Manning. Archie’s got attitude.

Peyton entered the 1998 NFL Draft and was picked first overall by the Indianapolis Colts. He had a successful career there, including 11 showings at the Pro Bowl, and a Super Bowl XLI MVP in the Colts’ win over the Chicago Bears. Peyton would later return to the Super Bowl in 2010, but lose to the New Orleans Saints. This season marks Peyton’s 15th year in the league, but with a new team, the Denver Broncos.

Peyton’s father, Archie Manning III, played in the NFL from 1971 to 1982 on the New Orleans Saints, Houston Oilers, then finally, the Minnesota Vikings. He many commendations, including an All-Pro bid and two Pro Bowl appearances.

Matthews, Slater and Manning make up only six active father-son duos to both be selected to play in a Pro Bowl. The three others are Gill and Jairus Byrd, Kellen and Kellen Jr. Winslow, and – get this – Archie and Peyton’s brother, Eli Manning.


(This article also appears on The Good Men Project.)