NFL’s Family Dynasties: Are They Killing the Spirit of Football?

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The NFL Draft is an exciting time for football fans around the world, as it brings fresh talent to the league and gives teams a chance to improve their rosters. However, this year’s draft had a special theme – family legacies. According to reports, 9% of the 2023 draft picks or signees have a family tie to a current or former player or a member of a team’s coaching staff. The event featured eight father-son connections, with some being more notable than others.

The most significant father-son duo was that of former Pittsburgh Steeler Joey Porter and Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. Porter Sr. is best known for his crucial role in helping the Steelers win a Super Bowl in 2006 and earning four Pro Bowl honors. On the other hand, Porter Jr. was selected by the Steelers as the first pick of the second round, hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps while also carving out a name for himself.

Another remarkable connection was Ohio State offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr., who was drafted sixth overall by the Cardinals. Interestingly, Johnson Jr. was also coincidentally drafted by the same team his father, Paris Johnson Sr., played for. Johnson Sr. was a safety selected in the fifth round of the 1999 NFL Draft, although he never played an NFL game. Johnson Jr. expressed his desire to make his family name prominent in the hall of Cardinals that came before him.

However, the highlight of the draft was the moment when Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the sixth round. Vaughn is the son of Cowboys assistant director of college scouting Chris Vaughn. According to reports, Chris had kept himself away from the conversation involving his son leading up to the draft, not writing a report on him as a potential draft pick and excusing himself from the room when the team discussed him. But in the sixth round, the Cowboys made the pick – and they let Chris be the one to make the call.

“Look here, man, do you want to come to work with me next week?” the elder Vaughn asked his son on the phone.

“I wouldn’t mind that at all,” Deuce replied on the other end of the line (FTW, 2023; Insider, 2023).

The family ties we witnessed in this year’s draft are more than just a feel-good story. They represent a legacy that stretches back decades and will continue for generations to come.

Other notable family ties worth noting:
– Indianapolis Colts 79th overall pick Josh Downs (WR) is the son of former New York Giants RB Gary Downs
– Baltimore Ravens 157th overall pick Kyu Blu Kelly (CB) is the son of former Tampa Bay Buccaneer CB Brian Kelly
– Arizona Cardinals 213th overall pick Dante Stills (DT) is the son of former Kansas City Chiefs LB Gary Stills
– Cincinnati Bengals signee Jaxson Kirkland (OT)is the son of former Buffalo Bills offensive guard Dean Kirkland
– Green Bay Packers signee Benny Sapp III (Safety) is the son of former CB Benny Snapp II who played for the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, and Minnesota Vikings
– Los Angeles Ram signee Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (CB) is former Los Angeles Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson nephew
– Philadelphia Eagles’ 676th overall pick Sydney Brown (Safety) is the twin of Cincinnati Bengals running back Chase Brown
– Atlanta Falcons 8th overall pick Bijan Robinson (RB) is the great nephew of former Cincinnati Bengals running back Paul Robinson
– Tennessee Titans 11th overall pick Peter Skoronski (OL) is the grandson of former Green Bay Packers tackle Bob Skoronski
– Buffalo Bills signee Jalen Wayne (WR) is the nephew of former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne
– Arizona Cardinals 41st overall pick B.J. Ojulari (LB) is the younger brother of New York Giants outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari
– Los Angeles Charges 54th overall pick Tuli Tuipulotu (LB) is the brother of Philadelphia Eagles Defensive end Marlon – Tauipulotu and the cousin of San Francisco 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga
– Undrafted and currently unsigned Steven Gilmore Jr. (CB) is the younger brother of Dallas Cowboys cornerback Stephon Gilmore
– Los Angeles Charger signee Tiawan Mullen (CB) is the younger brother of Baltimore Ravens cornerback Trayvon Mullen and cousin to quarterback Lamar Jackson
– Pittsburgh Steelers 132nd overall pick Nick Herbig (LB) is the younger brother of Steelers offensive lineman Nate Herbig
– Carolina Panthers signee Rejzohn Wright (CB) is the younger brother of Dallas Cowboys cornerback Nahshon Wright
– Denver Broncos signee P.J. Mustipher (DT) is the younger brother of former Chicago Bears center Sam Mustipher
– Miami Dolphins signee Michael Turk (P) is the nephew of former Steelers offensive lineman Dan Turk
– Dallas Cowboys 129th overall pick Viliami Fehoko (DE) is the cousin of Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea
– Green Bay Packer 42nd overall pick Luke Musgrave (TE) is the nephew of NFL assistant Bill Musgrave
– Undrafted and unsigned Dillon Doyle (LB) is the son of Denver Broncos tight end coach Declan Doyle


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