Friday Flashback:  Father-Son Sports Teams

Silhouette of Father and Son Playing Baseball Outside

With Father’s Day happening this weekend, let’s take a look at some of the most famous father-son sports duos.  This list isn’t ranked in any way.

Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning

It is rare enough that a father and one son make it big in sports but to have two sons to do well in professional sports is a rarity.  The Mannings have been one of the few to accomplish this feat.  Archie played most of his career when the New Orleans Saints were frequent losers in the National Football League (NFL).  He started 139 games and finished with a record of 35-101-3.  Archie was never fortunate to participate in the postseason.   On the other hand, his two sons exceeded that by both winning Super Bowls.  Peyton won with Indianapolis and Denver while Eli won with the New York Giants.

Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Sr. was known as “The Intimidator” with his driving. He won 76 races in his career, achieving perhaps his most elusive victory at the 1998 Daytona 500.  Tragically, he perished on the final-lap wreck at Daytona in 2001. Dale Earnhardt Jr., then age 26, finished second in that race. In the traumatic aftermath of his father’s passing, Earnhardt Jr. won the Pepsi 400 that year in the first race held on the Daytona track since the tragedy.  A visible and charismatic figure, Earnhardt Jr. was named NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver for 11 consecutive seasons. After winning the Daytona 500 in 2004, he thrilled fans by taking the checkered flag there in 2014 at age 39, his 20th career win.  They are the only father and son who ever competed directly against each other.  Dale was still racing at a high level when his son came onto the scene.  Junior was unfortunately in the race where his father was fatally killed in a crash.

Bobby and Brett Hull

Bobby Hull—nicknamed “The Golden Jet”—collected the Hart Trophy twice as the league’s MVP and led in points three times. His statue now stands outside the United Center, home of the Chicago Blackhawks.  Brett Hull had a very high standard to aim for, and he drastically outperformed his two brothers to earn the honorific of “The Golden Brett.” He joined dad in the Hall of Fame in 2009, the first father-son duo ever enshrined. While Brett won “only” one MVP award, he doubled up his father in Stanley Cups and scored more often; they tallied 1,351 career goals between them.  Brett currently serves in the front office for the St. Louis Blues.

Bobby and Barry Bonds

They are the greatest father-son duo in baseball history. Bobby hit 332 career home runs and stole 461 bases.  He played for eight teams in 14 seasons with three All-Star appearances. Barry’s career is questioned amid the BALCO scandal, but his on-field production is legendary. The infamous steroid allegations has meant four years of Hall of Fame voting and no entrance for Bonds, but he finished his career with the records for home runs in a season (73) and career (763).

Other notable father-son teams:

  • Buddy, Rex and Rob Ryan (football)
  • Prince and Cecil Fielder (baseball)
  • Felipe and Moises Alou (baseball)
  • Cal Ripken, Sr. and Cal Ripken, Jr. (baseball)
  • Kellen Winslow, Sr. and Kellen Winslow, Jr. (football)
  • Clay Matthews, Sr. and Clay Matthews, Jr. (football)
  • Ken Norton, Sr. (boxing) and Ken Norton, Jr. (football)
  • Calvin Hill (football) and Grant Hill (basketball)
  • Brett and Bob Boone (baseball)

 

Friday Flashback:  World League of American Football

On March 24, 1991, the Barcelona Dragons defeated the New York/New Jersey Knights 19-7 in the first game of the World League of American Football (WLAF).  The WLAF was the first National Football League (NFL) supported spring football football league which not only consisted of cities in North American but also in Europe.  The league lasted for the next 16 spring seasons, with a short restructuring period from 1993-94, and served as a developmental league for the NFL.  

The teams were largely stocked by NFL teams to give younger players additional game experience and coaching.  The league was the financial support for teams in addition to the players and coaching staffs.  

The first season featured 12 teams.  They were the Birimingham Fire, Sacramento Surge, San Antonio Riders, Montreal Machine, New York/New Jersey Knights, Orlando Thunder, Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks, Barcelona Dragons, Frankfurt Galaxy and London Monarchs.

The league incorporated some new ideas such as using the two-point conversion rule before the NFL officially adopted it in 1994.  Other changes were using a shorter kickoff tee, the four-point field goal from over 50 yards and numerous technical innovations such as helmet mounted cameras, one-way radios between coaches and quarterbacks.

Average game attendance throughout the league’s existence was 25,361 but the league was not the hit in the United States that was expected.  London, Barcelona, Frankfurt and Montreal surpassed early expectations and the Monarchs won the 1991 World Bowl title at Wembly Stadium in front of 61,108.

Honestly, there aren’t any names that really stand out from the players during that season.  Stan Gelbaugh (London) led the league with 2,656 passing yards.  Gelbaugh later played 13 games with the Seattle Seahawks from 1992-1996.  He was 1-11 as a starter.  Eric Wilkerson (NY/NJ) was the leading rusher with 717 yards.  

The WLAF evolved into NFL Europe for the 1998 season with all six teams located in Europe.  The Hamburg Sea Devils won the final league title on June 23, 2007 defeating the Frankfurt Galaxy 37-28.

The Turbulent Flight Of A Falcons’ Fan


I watched the Atlanta Falcons defeat the Seattle Seahawks in Saturday’s National Football League (NFL) playoffs.  It was a lot of work.  It’s pretty sad when you can’t relax and feel confident that your team can hold onto a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter.  

That’s the plight of being a lifelong Falcons’ fan.  Frustration.  Disappointment.  Finding defeat in certain victory.  

The first season I really followed the Falcons was in 1977.  That was the first year of the “Gritz Blitz” and a defense that set a record at that time for only allowing 129 points during a 14-game season.  

There have certainly been some bright spots along the way.  

The biggest moment was when Morten Anderson kicked the game winning field goal against Minnesota in the 1998 National Football Conference (NFC) championship to put the Falcons in their first Super Bowl.  I was a very elated fan.  

That elation was soon turned to another disappointment when the Falcons lost to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. 

Other disappointments that have conditioned me to be cautious over the years:

  • Dallas Cowboys 30, Atlanta Falcons 27 (1980 NFC Playoffs)
  • San Francisco 28, Atlanta Falcons 24 (2012 NFC Championship Game)
  • Green Bay Packers 48, Atlanta Falcons 21 (2010 NFC Playoffs)
  • Dallas Cowboys 20, Atlanta Falcons 17 (1978 NFC Playoffs)

So even with the victories, the Falcons have never had that “mojo” that a team needs to win consistently – especially in the playoffs.  The image of Danny White leading the Cowboys back in the 1980 playoffs is still burned into the memories of Falcon fans.  My stomach gets upset every time I see that game. 

So forgive me if this seems a little negative.  It isn’t just negativity, it has been my reality for the past 40 years. Expect disappointment but always hopeful.  

I mean, the Cubs did win the World Series so anything is possible right?

Please don’t call Matt Ryan “Marty Ice” because that will mean a pick six is going to happen.  I try not to be negative.  Really I’m not.  

When my wife asked me if I was excited about watching the Falcons’ game Saturday, I honestly answered “No” because it’s never easy.  Watching the Falcons is a lot of work.  I was physically worn out after the game. 

That’s the life of a Falcons’ fan.  

So now after a big win over the Seahawks, the Falcons will play again next week.  I don’t care about who they play.  It really doesn’t matter.  I know it’s going to be another three hours of work.