Kellen Winslow was a phenomenal tight end with three brilliant 1,000-yard seasons and the same amount of All-Pro selections. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1995 alongside Steve Largent, Lee Roy Selmon and Henry Jordan. He was named to the NFL 100 All-Time Team as one of just five tight ends on the roster of the game's legends.
Thus, he set a pretty high bar for his son, Kellen Winslow II, especially given the fact that he, too, was a tight end. But Kellen II ended up being a top-ten draft pick, recording a 1,000-yard season and becoming a Pro Bowler in just his third full season, and making a solid career for himself overall.
Still, he wasn't the Hall of Famer, or three-time All-Pro, or NFL 100 All-Time player that his father was. But he certainly was able to live up to expectations better than those who fill out this list below.
It's time for our "Like Father, NOT Like Son: NFL Edition," following our stories of the same title, but that focused on baseball -- both the underperforming sons and the outperforming sons throughout MLB history were featured. Our first installment will focus on the father-son duos with a wider differential between the Winslows, where the father was significantly more successful than the son.
Before we begin, here are some honorable mentions of NFL sons who were far less productive than their fathers:
- H.B. Blades (son of Bennie Blades)
- Brad Budde (son of Ed Budde)
- Billy Cannon Jr. (son of Billy Cannon)
- Jay Foreman (son of Chuck Foreman)
- Makoa Freitas (son of Rocky Freitas)
- Keith Jackson Jr. (son of Keith Jackson)
- Jeff Kemp (son of Jack Kemp)
- T.J. McDonald (son of Tim McDonald)
- Mickey Shuler Jr. (son of Mickey Shuler)
- Nick Toon (son of Al Toon)
Though Pro Football Reference's approximate value is by no means the definitive way to evaluate an NFL player's career productivity, it was the primary metric used to measure the difference between fathers and sons, especially those at different positions.
15. Brian Griese (son of Bob Griese)
Difference in approximate value: 78
Statistically, they're not horribly far apart. But they played in different eras, where different playing styles were prominent, and Bob Griese was certainly the more respected passer of the two Grieses. He's a Hall of Famer, after all, selected for eight Pro Bowls throughout his 25,000-yard, 192-touchdown NFL career. He's also a Super Bowl champion...
...but so is Brian, who memorably took John Elway's place the season after Elway led the Broncos to a victory in Super Bowl XXXIII, the final game of his career. The younger Griese was solid for the Broncos in four seasons as a starter, leading the team to a 27-24 record with 71 touchdowns and 53 interceptions.
Brian Griese is now on the "Monday Night Football" broadcasting team along with Steve Levy and Louis Riddick.
14. Chase Minnifield (son of Frank Minnifield)
Difference in approximate value: 85
Everything seemed to line up for Chase Minnifield to become a stellar defensive back in the NFL. His father, Frank, was a four-time All-Pro, who spent his whole career with the Browns and had 20 interceptions over a nine-year career. Chase was excellent in college, becoming one of Virginia's best defenders and raising his draft stock. However, he went undrafted and dealt with injuries, keeping his career to just seven games over two years.
Still, he's made quite the name for himself, selected to the 2019 class of Forbes 30 under 30 as the CEO of EZ Turn.
13. Cody Grimm (son of Russ Grimm)
Difference in approximate value: 85
We have a feeling if Cody Grimm was just a little bit bigger than his 5-foot-11, 202-lb. frame, he'd have made a fine offensive lineman. That's because Russ Grimm was a Hall of Fame guard for Washington, earning three consecutive first-team All-Pro selections and becoming an offensive line coach for several teams, including Washington and Pittsburgh, for two decades after his playing career was over.
Instead, Cody was a defensive back who appeared in 23 games over the course of his NFL career, defending three passes and picking off two.
12. David Grayson (son of Dave Grayson)
Difference in approximate value: 91
Dave Grayson was a quarterback's worst nightmare, picking off opponents 48 times throughout his career, including a league-high ten times in 1968. He started with a bang in his rookie season, taking a pick-six to the house from the one-yard line all the way to the other hand of the field, and never looked back, earning four first-team All-Pro nods and six Pro Bowl selections.
His son, David, didn't have the same NFL success, though he did also return a defensive touchdown in his rookie year in 1987 -- a fumble recover that went for 17 yards. He played for the Browns for four seasons, ending his on-field career with a one-game stint with the Chargers in 1991.
11. Bradlee Van Pelt (son of Brad Van Pelt)
Difference in approximate value: 97
Brad Van Pelt hit his stride in the late 1970s with the "Crunch Bunch" of the New York Giants, picking off quarterbacks and forcing/recovering fumbles with relative regularity en route to five consecutive Pro Bowl nominations at linebacker. He passed away suddenly at the age of 57 in 2009, which was a devastating blow to his family and to the NFL community. Brian Kelley, another member of the "Crunch Bunch," compared his death to the loss of a limb.
Bradlee Van Pelt turned a seventh-round flier taken by the Broncos into a 2-for-8 career at quarterback. He finished his career with seven passing yards, though he was versatile as a rushing option, with 11 carries for 48 yards and a touchdown.
10. Josh Wilcox (son of Dave Wilcox)
Difference in approximate value: 95
A member of the 2000 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Dave Wilcox was a defensive stalwart for the 49ers of the late 1960s/early 1970s known by the moniker "The Intimidator," which must mean something if he had that name above all other NFL players. Former coach Mike Giddings said that he manhandled blockers at the same time as making amazing open-field plays in the passing game, meaning you couldn't run or pass on him.
So we don't think Josh Wilcox would have been too much of a threat on the other side of the line, as the former tight end hauled in only seven passes over the course of his two-year career in the late 1990s. However, he was a member of the Los Angeles Xtreme in the original incarnation of the XFL, taking home part of the pot by winning the Million Dollar Game in 2001.
9. Jordan Kramer (son of Jerry Kramer)
Difference in approximate value: 105
A Hall of Fame right guard, Jerry Kramer (6-foot-3, 245 pounds) gave his son, Jordan (6-foot-1, 230 pounds), the size. But he didn't quite give him the same football skill set. Jerry was named a first-team All-Pro five times throughout his career, winning three NFL Championships and two Super Bowls with the Packers for a total of five rings in the Lombardi era.
Jordan, on the other hand, played six games at linebacker for the Titans in the early 2000s, making four tackles and recovering one fumble throughout his career.
8. Greg Lloyd Jr. (son of Greg Lloyd)
Difference in approximate value: 110
Though the statistical data for forced fumbles is limited, as it doesn't go back beyond the 1980s, the current record co-holder (with Robert Quinn) for the most seasons with five or more forced fumbles is the elder Greg Lloyd, who was a wrecking ball for the 1990s Steelers. In fact, from 1991 to 1995 -- all Pro Bowl seasons -- Lloyd forced at least five fumbles in each campaign.
Unfortunately, he was not as good a family man as he was a football player. He was accused of sticking a gun in his son's mouth when he was a teenager, which is extremely upsetting and makes it all the more impressive that the younger Greg Lloyd was able to persevere and make it to the NFL at all. It's no wonder that he's estranged with his father and has been since a child (via Shawn Courchesne of The Hartford Courant).
The elder Lloyd was also arrested recently after allegedly threatening his wife with a gun (via TMZ).
Lloyd Jr., though drafted by the Eagles, suited up in only two games during his NFL career, both of which came as a Buffalo Bill.
7. Brian Taylor (son of Roosevelt Taylor)
Difference in approximate value: 110
Rosey Taylor was a premier safety throughout the 1960s for the Bears, leading the George Halas to his sixth and final NFL Championship in 1963 with a league-high nine interceptions. He recorded 32 throughout his NFL career, during which he was named a Pro Bowler twice.
His son, Brian, was also a member of the Chicago Bears, though only for five games as a rookie in 1989. He rushed two times for seven yards as a marker of his time there, played a special teams role for the Bills two seasons later, and didn't have any other NFL action to show for himself.
6. Chris/Matt Simms (sons of Phil Simms)
Difference in approximate value: 110/117
You can't talk about quarterback families without taking about the Simms. The father, Phil, is a Hall of Fame candidate with many supporters on his side, labeling his absence from Canton as a glaring omission. One of his sons, Chris, is a quarterback guru whose annual rankings are an all-important fixture across sports media and Twitter -- mainly because everyone seems to take exception to them. And the other son, Matt, is still trying to make it as a journeyman in the NFL and had a tryout with the Texans this past offseason.
Phil is the only one with Pro Bowl honors, Super Bowl rings, or a legitimate NFL career as a passer, with over 33,000 yards and 199 touchdowns in his career. His sons, on the other hand, combined for 3,312 yards, 13 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
5. Bobby Bell Jr. (son of Bobby Bell)
Difference in approximate value: 134
One of the most athletic and versatile defenders in NFL history, Bobby Bell's Hall of Fame career was defined by his ability to do... well, pretty much everything. Hank Stram spoke at his enshrinement ceremony, saying that "he was the only player in my 30 years of coaching that had the ability to play any position at a football team and that team would still win." His son didn't quite have the same success.
The younger Bobby Bell started only five games throughout his NFL career -- also acting as a linebacker -- though he did record 3.5 sacks in just three games with the Bears in 1987.
4. Anthony Dorsett (son of Tony Dorsett)
Difference in approximate value: 116
Defensive back Anthony Dorsett hit his stride as a member of the Raiders, performing admirably in 2001 with two interceptions -- both pick-sixes -- and eight passes defended. Still, we feel as though he would have struggled to contain his Hall of Fame father if he had broken loose in the secondary, as the elder Dorsett ran for nearly 13,000 yards in his career and is one of the two players to ever record a 99-yard run.
3. Ryan Nece (son of Ronnie Lott)
Difference in approximate value: 163
Nece was given his mother's maiden name so that he could forge his own identity, and he's done exactly that. Though his NFL career wasn't all too exciting -- he did win a Super Bowl, but even that achievement pales in comparison to Ronnie's four rings -- he has blazed a tremendous path off the field. He's the co-founder and managing partner of Next Play Capital, a prominent investor in real estate and technological start-ups, a philanthropic presence with a foundation that creates service and volunteering opportunities for teenagers and a board member of several institutions of the Tampa Bay community.
2. Jarrett Payton (son of Walter Payton)
Difference in approximate value: 167
The fact that very few players in NFL history, regardless of position, have left as big an impact on the game as Bears legend Walter Payton has means that we can't exactly fault his son, here. In fact, we can't fault any of these guys -- they made it to the NFL, after all.
But Jarrett has proven to be a phenomenal football figure off the field, even if his on-field career (33 rushes, 105 yards) wasn't anything special. He gave the induction speech at Walter's Hall of Fame induction when he was just 12 years old, which was indicative of the career he'd later have as a reporter and TV host. He also started the Jarrett Payton Foundation with an aim to blend education, sports and mentoring.
1. Kevin/Mike Matthews (sons of Bruce Matthews)
Difference in approximate value: 223/226
Offensive tackle Jake Matthews, a top-ten pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, has had a very successful career in Atlanta, with a Pro Bowl season under his belt and a continual starting role as a reliable left tackle. The same can't be said for his two brothers, Kevin (17 career games) and Mike (0 career games), and so it seems as though he picked up the most from their father, Bruce.
Bruce Matthews could play anywhere in front of the quarterback and is widely considered one of the greatest offensive linemen of all time, with 14 Pro Bowls and seven first-team All-Pro selections to serve as a marker of his dominance.