Dallas Cowboys linebacker BOBBY CARPENTER is one of those rookies.
When he takes the field against Jacksonville on Kickoff Sunday on September 10, it will be the payoff for all the hard work and dedication instilled in him by his father ROB, a 10-year NFL running back for the Houston Oilers (1977-81), New York Giants (1981-85) and Los Angeles Rams (1986). Rob Carpenter ingrained those traits in his son early, on and off the football field.
At an age where the internet, cable TV and cell phones are the norm in households across America, the elder Carpenter would not permit such “distractions” under his roof. This low-tech upbringing helped mold Bobby – an Ohio State graduate (BS, Economics) -- into the type of prospect NFL coaches and scouts love: a versatile, hard-working athlete who is physically and mentally mature.
While many kids were sitting in front of their TVs, Bobby was outside tossing the football with his brothers, or studying game tape as early as the seventh grade – all under the watchful eye of his dad, who also was his coach from junior high until graduation from Lancaster (Ohio) High School.
''People always ask me about a special play by Bobby or one of his games that stands out in my memory, but I don't really have one," says Rob. ''His big plays -- the sacks, the interceptions, the hits -- that's all fine and good, but really, I just like watching him every play. Every play he's in a ‘football’ position. Coaches love to see that in a player."
One coach who will love to see Bobby in position on the field and studying film off it is his new head coach BILL PARCELLS, who also coached Rob 20-some years ago with the Giants. Like his father, Bobby already has been tabbed a “Parcells Guy” by the media, and while the rookie shows a deep sense of respect towards the reference, he is not quite prepared to assume the label and responsibility that comes with it before proving himself on the field.
“I wouldn't characterize myself as one of those guys yet," says Bobby. “I believe that's something that's got to be earned, but I'm looking forward to the opportunity. My dad says Bill Parcells always valued hard work, and that's something that I'm going to bring to the table every day."
The other rookies this year who can join the NFL fathers-sons list are Oakland linebacker THOMAS HOWARD, son of former Kansas City and St. Louis Cardinals linebacker THOMAS, SR.; Miami running back GERALD RIGGS, JR., son of former Atlanta and Washington running back GERALD, SR.; Seattle guard ROB SIMS, son of former Cleveland defensive tackle MICKEY; and San Diego quarterback CHARLIE WHITEHURST, son of former Green Bay quarterback DAVID.
There’s another rookie son on an NFL roster who does not quite fit the above category, yet is also an offspring of a famous father – St. Louis Rams rookie JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON, a running back from Morehouse College. Pop is well-known actor DENZEL WASHINGTON, who has starred in numerous films and won Academy Awards for Best Actor in the police drama Training Day in 2001 and Best Supporting Actor for Glory in 1989. He also portrayed intense football coach HERMAN BOONE in Remember the Titans.
"Remember the Titans was real,'' laughs J.D. in equating the toughness shown by his father in the movie with real life when he coached his son in Pop Warner. “That wasn't acting. That is what it was for me, too. When he coached, he was tough. We were hitting all the time.''
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There have been 147 father-son pairs and threesomes that have played in the NFL. The list includes names such as DORSETT (Tony and Anthony); FARR (Mel, Sr.; Mel, Jr.; and Mike); JONES (Dub and Bert); KIICK (George and Jim); KRAMER (Jerry and Jordan); KLECKO (Joe and Dan); MANNING (Archie, Peyton and Eli); MATTHEWS (Clay, Sr.; Clay, Jr.; and Bruce); METCALF (Terry and Eric); and SHULA (Don, Dave and Mike).
The Seahawks have several father-son pairs who have passed through franchise history (with active players denoted by an asterisk):
Sam, Sr. G 1972-80 New England Patriots
Sam, Jr. DT 1994-99 Seattle Seahawks, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens, 2002 Oakland Raiders, 2003-2005 Buffalo Bills, 2006 Cincinnati Bengals *
Ed G-DE 1950, 1952 Chicago Bears
Ed LB 1972-75 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1976 Seattle Seahawks, 1977-78 San Francisco 49ers
Maurice RB 1985-1992 N.Y. Giants
Ran RB 2004-2005 Indianapolis Colts, 2006 Seattle Seahawks*
Don TE 1977-83 New England Patriots, 1983 Los Angeles Raiders, 1984 Minnesota Vikings, 1985 New York Giants
Matt QB 1998-2000 Green Bay Packers, 2001-present Seattle Seahawks *
Tim QB 2002 Philadelphia Eagles, 2003-04 Washington Redskins, 2005-present New York Giants *
Kevin, Sr. WR 1980-87 Tampa Bay-LA Rams
Kevin, Jr. CB 2002-04 San Diego Chargers, 2005 Seattle Seahawks
Gordon G-T 1972-75 Detroit Lions, 1976-77 Seattle Seahawks
Doug TE 2002-04 Oakland Raiders, 2005-present New York Jets *
Jack QB 1957 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1960-62 Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers, 1962-69 Buffalo Bills
Jeff QB 1981-85 Los Angeles Rams, 1986 San Francisco 49ers, 1987-91 Seattle Seahawks, 1991 Philadelphia Eagles
Kent CB 1965-70 Oakland Raiders
Dave DB 1991 Indianapolis Colts, 1992 Green Bay Packers, 1993 Seattle Seahawks
Lawrence RB 1972-79 Los Angeles Rams, 1980 Denver Broncos, 1980 Seattle Seahawks, 1981 Buffalo Bills
Daylon CB 1999-present Cleveland Browns *
Ron RB 1979-84 Dallas Cowboys, 1985-86 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Shawn CB 1997-03 Seattle Seahawks, 2004-present Washington Redskins *
Mosi RB 1978-1990 New England Patriots, 1991 L.A. Rams
Lofa LB 2005-present Seattle Seahawks *
Aaron TE-WR 1961-62 San Francisco 49ers, 1962-70 New York Giants
Robb WR 1989-91 Kansas City Chiefs, 1992-95 Seattle Seahawks, 1996-98 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Manu DT 1979-83 Seattle, 1984-86 San Francisco
Marques QB 2001-present Oakland Raiders *