There have been some great brother acts in the history of sports, proving that athleticism runs in the blood.
Peyton and Eli Manning are but two fine examples of siblings that have achieved great heights.
Tiny Viking, Alberta was home to the Sutter brothers of hockey fame (all six of ’em!), which is an extreme example of successful familial sporting endeavors.
Another was the DiMaggio brothers — Joe, Dom, and Vince — who left their own great marks on the baseball world. The lists go on and on, where family and sport ties are concerned.
Not as popular, however, are those brother acts where lesser-knowns struggle in the massive shadow of their superstar siblings. Did you know that Boston Red Sox all-star infielder Nomar Garciaparra had a brother Michael who played pro ball?
We’ll bet not.
The younger Michael was drafted in the first round (36th overall) by the Seattle Mariners in the 2001 draft, but didn’t advance past AAA ball. He was out of baseball after 2010.
Here are 15 other brothers who failed to attain the lofty heights of their more famous siblings.
15. Chris, Gordon, Glenn And Dan Gronkowski (Rob’s Brothers)
It must have been something being at the Gronkowski dinner table when the five brother were growing up — much less the sports fields of suburban Buffalo, New York. Rob, one of the youngest of five Gronkowski brothers who include Dan, Gordie, Glenn and Chris, must have gotten his fair share of food, since he’s gone on to be a three-time All-Pro tight end and two-time Super Bowl winning football bon vivant. As for the others, three of them played football, while Gord, the oldest, chose baseball. Dan, also a tight end, appeared in 21 games in the NFL after being drafted 255th overall by Detroit in 2009. He had nine catches for 69 yards. Chris, a running back, got in 35 games with Dallas, Indianapolis and Denver, rushing for 17 yards and catching eight passes for 46 yards and a TD. The youngest, Glenn, is a fullback and has appeared in one game for Buffalo in 2016. Gord, the baseball player, was drafted in the 49th round of the 2006 MLB draft by the Angels and never got higher than A Ball.
14. Malcolm Subban (P.K.’s Brother)
We could have included other brother Jordan, a defenceman in the Vancouver Canucks’ system, but he is just 22 and has some time. However, goalie Malcolm Subban, who also played with the same junior team (Belleville Bulls) as Nashville Predators Norris Trophy-winning P.K., has as of yet not really stuck in the NHL. He enjoyed three great seasons with the Bulls and was drafted 24th overall by the Boston Bruins in 2012. As with most netminders, he had to apprentice in the minors, putting together two great seasons with Providence in 2013-14 and 2014-15, earning a one game call-up to the big club in 2015. Yet, he still couldn’t wrangle the back-up job in Beantown and his play in the minors actually regressed a little bit. Boston waived Subban earlier this fall and he was picked up by the Vegas Golden Knights. An injury dogged him earlier this season, but he has gotten into nine games and played fairly well. The jury is still out, though.
13. Cooper Manning (Peyton and Eli’s Brother)
Not many people may know this, but former NFL QB and patriarch Archie Manning has three sons who are or who have played football. Of course, the path to the Hall of Fame is paved with gold for Peyton and to a lesser degree for Eli, however, older brother Cooper no doubt had a hand in the early household competition to see who could excel at their Dad’s chosen game. Cooper was actually a wide receiver who caught passes as a high school senior from brother Peyton, who would have been a sophomore. Highly ranked out of Louisiana high school football, Cooper signed with Mississippi University, his father’s alma mater. But, before his first season even began, Cooper was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which ended his fledgling career. Brother Peyton wore his big brother’s number, 18, in the NFL to honor him. Cooper worked in football TV for a while and now works for an investment firm.
12. Seth Curry (Steph’s Brother)
As of this writing, Steph Curry‘s little brother Seth is still trying to stick at the NBA level. Undrafted in 2013 out of Duke, former NBAer Dell’s youngest son signed a free agent deal with Golden State in August of that year. He only played D-League ball in the Dubs’ system before bouncing around with Memphis, Cleveland and Phoenix, where he played all of four games in two seasons. Then, in 2015-16, he got a chance to play point guard for Sacramento, starting nine of 44 games and recording 6.8 points per game. Last year, Seth signed with Dallas and had his most complete season yet, starting 42 of 70 games for the Mavericks. While he’s not near as prolific as Steph, Seth shot 42.5 percent from three-point range last season and scored 12.8 points per game. However, earlier this season, a leg injury has kept him out of game action and threatens to derail his fledgling career, again.
11. Jordan Palmer (Carson’s brother)
Carson has had his ups and downs as a starter after being the first pick overall in the 2003 NFL draft by Cincinnati. But he has played in two Pro Bowls and set multiple Bengal records before going to Oakland and now Arizona. His passer rating so far this year is hovering around his career average of 87.9 (84.4) and the three-time Pro Bowler has led the Cards to a 3-4 record in games he has started in the NFC West. Younger brother Jordan, however, bounced around the NFL after being drafted in the sixth round by Washington in 2007. Other than backing up his brother for a year in Cincinnati (2008), Palmer had brief stints with Jacksonville, Chicago, Buffalo and Tennessee. His career stats read 11 for 18 in pass attempts, with 66 yards passing, no touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He was cut by Buffalo this year.
10. Ozzie Canseco (Jose’s brother)
Of the many brother acts in sports, few have been identical twins. The Sedin twins of the Vancouver Canucks are a good example, and both have been wildly successful. The other set that comes to mind, Jose and Ozzie Canseco, not so much. Jose was one half of the famous bash brothers with Mark McGwire in Oakland and hit 462 homers in his 17-season Major League career. If you take away the controversy surrounding PED abuse, he had Hall of Fame worthy stats. Ozzie, though, was an identical to his famous brother in looks only. He played in all of 24 Major League games with Oakland and St. Louis and never once hit a big fly. He did set the record for homers (48) in the Atlantic League in 2000 with the Newark Bears, so he wasn’t a total washout. Ozzie last played pro ball, at the age of 49, for Brownsville of the independent United League Baseball loop in 2014.
9. Brian Sakic (Joe’s brother)
Born two years apart in Burnaby, B.C., older brother Joe and younger brother Brian are about the same height and weight. Both had excellent junior careers in the Western Hockey League and played on the Swift Current Broncos together in 1987-88. That’s where the similarities end. Joe, drafted 15th overall by the Quebec Nordiques in 1987, scored 625 goals and 1,641 points with Quebec and Colorado, won two Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe and an Olympic Gold medal (2002). He was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2013. Brian wasn’t a wilting daisy by any means, as he holds the record for assists (405) and points (591) in the WHL and had his number retired by the Tri-City Americans. He did not, however, ever play in the NHL, instead putting in seven productive seasons in lower level minor league hockey (mostly with the Flint Generals of the Colonial and United Hockey Leagues).
8. Taylor Griffin (Blake’s brother)
This is a reverse case of living in a shadow, only Blake came well out of the one cast by his older brother Taylor. As fate would have it, the two sibs were drafted in the same year (2009) and both out of the University of Oklahoma. Blake was a 20-year-old sophomore phenom and was drafted first overall by the LA Clippers. Taylor was a 23-year-old senior and went 48th overall to Phoenix. Taylor recorded a career high 9.6 points per game with the Sooners in his senior season, while Blake averaged a stellar 22.7 PPG and 14.4 rebounds as a sophomore. Blake made an immediate impact his first season, being named to the All-Rookie team for the 2010-11 season and has led the Clippers in many categories in his eight season career. Taylor didn’t have as much luck, getting into just eight games with Phoenix during the 2009-10 campaign and scoring 1.3 points per game. He bounced around the D-league for a while and was last seen playing second tier basketball in Italy.
7. Stephane Roy (Patrick’s brother)
Patrick Roy didn’t just cast a shadow over his younger brother Stephane, he was more of a total eclipse. Roy became arguably one of the best goaltenders ever in the NHL, racking up 551 wins (with Montreal and Colorado), 66 shutouts, three Conn Smythe trophies, four Stanley Cups, three Vezina Trophies and a Hall of Fame induction in 2006. He was most recently the head coach of the Avalanche, stepping down from the position in August of 2016. Stephane opted to play forward and was a good player in his own right. He was a fixture for the Canadian International (Olympic) team for three years in the early 1990’s, after a pretty good junior career with Chicoutimi and Granby of the QMJHL. Drafted 51st overall by the Minnesota North Starts in 1985, Stephane would play only 12 games in the bigs though, all with Minnesota and scoring one goal.
6. Dan McGwire (Mark’s brother)
Maybe, like big brother Mark, Dan McGwire should have played baseball. At 6’8″, the former NFL quarterback might have made a heck of a pitcher. Having picked the gridiron, Dan would become one of the biggest first round busts ever. He was drafted 16th overall by Seattle in 1991 (the first QB selected, ahead of Brett Favre no less) after a standout career at San Diego State. But he failed to be a factor in five seasons, completing 74 of 148 passes for 745 yards, two touchdowns and six interceptions in 13 games with Seattle and Miami and was out of football by 1995. Oh, and Mark, well he went on to hit 583 homers in the bigs, 70 in the magical 1998 season when he and Sammy Sosa traded bombs. But his induction into Cooperstown has been delayed — maybe even nullified — by a big asterisk (PEDs) that hangs over his accomplishments.
5. Alain Lemieux (Mario’s brother)
During his illustrious Hall of Fame NHL career, Mario was known as Mario ‘Le Magnifique’. Not sure what moniker they would have given older brother Alain, who played the bulk of his career in the minor leagues. Maybe Alain ‘Le Moyenne’ (average)? Both Lemieux brothers starred in junior hockey, with Alain scoring 166 points (68 games) his final year with Chicoutimi of the Quebec League. He would score 72 points in 119 NHL games and played with his younger brother in his last NHL game during the 1986-87 season. Mario made his brother’s junior scoring feats look amateurish, setting league records for goals (133) and points (282) with Laval in 1983-84. Oh yah, he also won two Stanley Cups, three Hart trophies, six Art Ross trophies (scoring), an Olympic Gold medal and went into the Hall of Fame in 1997.
4. Marcus Vick (Michael’s brother)
Marcus and older brother Michael have a couple things in common. They both played quarterback at Virginia Tech and both have spent considerable time in jail. After that, there are no more comparisons. Marcus followed his brother to VT but racked up more misdemeanor charges and suspensions than school passing records (he missed the whole 2004 VT season after being suspended). He appeared briefly in one NFL game for the Miami Dolphins in 2006 and has been in and out of trouble ever since. The elder Michael, picked first overall by Atlanta in 2001, at least waited until he was pro to get into trouble and go to prison. His career, while spotty, has seen flashes of the brilliance he was drafted for, earning four Pro Bowl nominations. After serving time in prison, Vick played until 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
3. Craig Griffey (Ken Jr.’s brother)
In baseball terms, the Griffey name denotes royalty. Ken Griffey Sr. enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the majors and was an integral part of Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine” that won back to back titles in 1975 and ’76. His namesake, Ken Jr., was even more accomplished player, hitting 630 homers in a 23-season Hall of Fame career (he was inducted in 2016). The Kens even got to play together, with Seattle in 1990 and ’91. Younger brother Craig, though, wasn’t as gifted athletically as his famous sibling and wouldn’t be drafted until the 42nd round by Seattle in 1991. He never did get a big league at bat, making it as far as Seattle’s AAA team in Tacoma.
2. Eddie Bird (Larry’s brother)
The decade in age difference isn’t the only chasm between NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird and little brother Eddie. While they both starred at Indiana State University (Larry is the all-time scoring leader with 2,850 points and Eddie is seventh with 1,555), only Larry would go on to NBA superstardom. The “Hick from French Lick” would win three titles in 13 seasons with Boston, along with three MVP awards, nine first team All-Star awards, and later honored with enshrinement in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Eddie, who averaged 14.0 points in his 111 game collegiate career with the Sycamores, tried to catch on with Sacramento in 1991 but failed to make the cut.
1. Keith and Brent Gretzky (Wayne’s brothers)
Wayne Gretzky’s shoes were so big to fill, even two hockey-playing brothers couldn’t do it. The world knows everything about Wayne’s exploits. The scoring records, the Stanley Cups, the MVP awards, his actress wife, and social media butterfly daughter. As for Keith and Brent, well, they are known mostly for being The Great One’s younger siblings. Keith, who is six years Wayne’s junior, had a decent junior career and was selected 56th overall by Buffalo in 1985. He never played a game in the NHL. Brent, 11 years younger than Wayne, actually had a cup of coffee in the bigs, playing in 13 games with Tampa Bay, scoring a goal and two assists.