In his collection of essays on sports, Donald Hall wrote:
Baseball is fathers and sons. Football is brothers beating each other up in the backyard.
Well, beating each other up in the backyard seems to have resulted in some very good football skills for a couple of brothers, at least. As of today, a total of 364 documented sets of brothers (including half brothers) have played professional football. This sum includes brothers who have played in the AAFC, the AFL, and the NFL. Of these sets of brothers, 67 were able to play on the same team during the same season. In fact, one of these sets of brothers is currently playing for the Oakland Raiders: Kaelin and Kevin Burnett.
There are 20 other sets of brothers currently playing on different teams in the NFL. Of these, which ones are making the highest amount of money for their contributions to their teams? Here’s a list of ten sets of brothers who are currently being paid the most for playing American football:
10. Brent (Philadelphia Eagles) and Garrett Celek (San Francisco 49ers) / Combined Salary: $5,013,000 Million
Big brother Brent is making almost ten times as much in salary as his little brother Garrett. But that’s not very surprising as Brent has been playing for the Philadelphia Eagles since 2007 after he was drafted by the team in the fifth round that year. In the 2008 season, he set a franchise record for yards in a game with 131 in week 9, and another one for receptions in a playoff game with 10 during the 2009 NFC Championship game. After making 76 catches in 2009, a team record for tight ends, Brent has since been promoted as the starting tight end for the Eagles and has signed a six-year contract extension that will keep him with the team until the 2016 season.
Garrett, meanwhile, although he only began his NFL career in 2012, already has one up over his brother. His team, the San Francisco 49ers, won the NFC championship and contested (but lost) Super Bowl XLVI.
Before that game, Brent joked with Garrett, “Man, if you get that ring, I’m quittin’ after this year.”
9. Maurkice (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Mike Pouncey (Miami Dolphins) / Combined Salary: $5,053,246
Twins Maurkice and Mike Pouncey played together when they were teammates in high school and at the University of Florida. Because of these circumstances, they have never been able to play against each other during an official game.
Maurkice, a center, actually started his NFL career earlier after being drafted eighth overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010. Mike, a center/guard, then followed a year later after being drafted fifteenth overall by the Miami Dolphins.
The brothers were supposed to meet as opponents for the first time in December of 2013 when the Steelers and the Dolphins faced each other, but unfortunately, Maurkice was out for the year following an ACL and MCL tear in his knee. It seems that fate is preventing these twin brothers from being pitted against each other. In fact, even in terms of salary, a comparison doesn’t yield a definitive victor: Maurkice only has a $2,000 edge over Mike.
8. Martellus (Chicago Bears) and Michael Bennet (Seattle Seahawks) / Combined Salary: $6,740,000
Martellus, at 26 years of age, is younger than his brother Michael by only two years, but big brother Michael’s salary is more than twice that of his li’l bro. However, that hasn’t stopped Martellus, a tight end for the Chicago Bears, from thinking he’s the one in control of their careers. In December of 2013, he made statements to the media that he’s making arrangements for Michael, currently a defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks, to move over to be a Bear like him in anticipation of Michael’s free agency in 2014.
Michael, despite being much more soft-spoken than the funny-man that Martellus is, lets his play do a lot of his talking. In 2012, he recorded his best season as a Buccaneer with career-highs in tackles (41), sacks (9), and forced fumbles (3).
7. Dawan (New York Jets) and LaRon Landry (Indianapolis Colts) / Combined Salary: $6,925,000
It can be a bit awkward when the younger of two brothers who play the same sport is perceived to be the better player. That’s the case with the NFL’s Landrys who are both safeties; the younger LaRon is being paid almost five times as much as older brother Dawan.
However, the salary disparity doesn’t seem to faze Dawan. When asked about which brother is the better player, he calmly replies, “It depends on who you ask. If you ask me, I’m going to say me.”
6. Clay III (Green Bay Packers) and Casey Matthews (Philadelphia Eagles) / Combined Salary: $7,373,716
Anyone who argues that talent in sports is genetically determined has to mention the Matthews of the NFL. Clay Matthews, Sr. played four seasons for the San Francisco 49ers in the 50s. Clay Sr.’s sons include Bruce Matthews, who played nineteen seasons in the NFL and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007, and Clay Matthews, Jr., who played nineteen seasons and earned four Pro Bowl selections. He’s the father of Clay Matthews III and Casey Matthews, both currently playing in the NFL.
Older brother Clay III is being paid $6.7 million by the Green Bay Packers this season. However, he’s proven that he’s well worth that amount as he has played in the Pro Bowl in all of his four years in the NFL. He also helped the Packers win Super Bowl XLV, and that same season, was selected as SN and NFC Defensive Player of the Year and was given the Butkus Award.
Younger brother Casey, meanwhile, has been a linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles since 2011.
5. Devin (New England Patriots) and Jason McCourty (Tennessee Titans) / Combined Salary: $8,645,000
Twins Devin and Jason McCourty played college football together for Rutgers, but Jason joined the NFL Draft a year ahead of Devin, who waited until 2010 to do so. They ended up in separate teams, Jason becoming a Tennessee Titan and Devin playing as a New England Patriot.
They’re very close to each other, but the gloves come off when they face off on their opposing teams. Nevertheless, they’re open to helping each other prepare for their opponents. In fact, when the Patriots recently learned that their postseason opposition in the AFC divisional round was the Indianapolis Colts, Devin went ahead and asked Jason for advice since Jason’s team faces the Colts twice a year.
Devin shares, “I talk to my brother all the time and he’s yet to play in the playoffs, and that makes me appreciate it even more.”
4. Chris (St. Louis Rams) and Kyle Long (Chicago Bears) / Combined Salary: $10,259,264
Big brothers are expected to look out for their little brothers, and that’s exactly what Chris did when Kyle got into a tussle with a Rams player when their teams faced each other in late November of 2013. It was the first time that the brothers were seeing action against each other, and perhaps that got Kyle’s competitive juices flowing. In the second quarter of the game, the rookie shoved and was attempting to kick his opponent, Chris’s teammate. Seeing that Kyle was about to get into serious trouble, Chris sprinted onto the field from the sideline and pushed his brother out of the way while other players tried to intervene.
The father of the brothers, Hall of Famer Howie Long, was in the audience as he watched his sons play. Maybe he had something to do with Kyle’s tweet after the game:
3. Vernon (San Francisco 49ers) and Vontae Davis (Indianapolis Colts) / Combined Salary: $10,601,167
Indianapolis Colts cornerback Vontae’s $1.8 million salary is impressive, but it’s dwarfed by older brother Vernon‘s $8.7 million as tight end for the San Francisco 49ers. Vernon is putting the 49ers’ money to good use, however. He was selected sixth overall in the 2006 NFL Draft and signed a five-year $23-million deal that made him the highest-paid tight end at that time. He was then selected to play in the Pro Bowl twice (2009, 2013) and also helped the 49ers win the NFC championship in 2012.
Vontae, meanwhile, has nothing to be ashamed of. In 2009, his NFL debut year, he was selected as part of the PFW All-Rookie Team.
2. Matt (Minnesota Vikings) and Ryan Kalil (Carolina Panthers) / Combined Salary: $10,893,318
Ryan isn’t fully comfortable calling Matt his little brother despite being five years olders than him. That’s because Matt is four inches taller than Ryan. In fact, while Ryan has been doing well as the center for the Carolina Panthers since 2007, many observers believe that Matt, who debuted in 2012, is turning out to be the better player.
That says a lot about Matt, since his older brother is very accomplished in the NFL. Ryan, a four-time Pro Bowler (2009-2013) and a member of the AP First-Team All-Pro in 2013, is among the highest-paid centers in the league. Matt, meanwhile, was selected fourth overall in the NFL Draft and played in the Pro Bowl during his first year in the league.
When the brothers met each other for the first time in October of 2011, the event became a family affair with sister Danielle singing the national anthem. The Panthers crushed the Vikings 35-10.
1. Peyton (Denver Broncos) and Eli Manning (New York Giants) / Combined Salary: $38,350,000
He may be four years younger, but Eli is currently making over $3 million more than big brother Peyton. But what that comparison fails to mention is that Eli is, himself, earning $17.5 million this season. The brothers are both truly superstars in their own right.
33-year-old Eli, a quarterback for the New York Giants, is the current active iron man for consecutive starts by a quarterback. He has won two Super Bowls (XLII, XLVI) and was Super Bowl MVP both those times. Eli has also set all sorts of records, including the season record for 4th-quarter touchdown passes (15) and the season record for game-winning drives (8).
37-year-old Peyton, meanwhile, is a four-time MVP (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009) and is among the most well-liked players in the NFL. He has played in the Pro Bowl thirteen times and won Super Bowl XLI, where he was named Super Bowl MVP. Peyton was also chosen 2013 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.
When playing against each other in the NFL, Peyton leads 3-0.
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