The 2023 Super Bowl is set to be a historic one, as two brothers are set to play against one another for the first time in the game’s history.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Eagles center Jason Kelce will each look to earn their second Super Bowl win at the expense of the other. Jason earned his first ring when the Eagles beat the Patriots in Super Bowl 52; Travis’ win came when the Chiefs beat the 49ers in Super Bowl 54.
This marks the biggest brother vs. brother matchup since John Harbaugh and Jim Harbaugh coached against one another in the Ravens vs. 49ers Super Bowl. It also creates quite a good debate for fans of the NFL’s past and present:
Are the Kelces the best brother grouping to ever play in the NFL?
The NFL has many storied bloodlines, and plenty of siblings have earned success at football’s highest level. Determining which grouping of related players is the best is no easy task, but it’s clear that the Kelces are among the best.
Just how good are they? The Sporting News did its best to rank the NFL’s top sibling combinations of all time. It took some whittling, as we searched for sibling groups where at least two players had productive careers. The goal was to avoid including families like the Gronkowskis — who produced one, elite tight end and a few journeymen — and to find successful tandems.
Here’s what we settled on for the best brother groups to play in the NFL.
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- Jason and Devin McCourty
- Chris and Kyle Long
- Chris and Matt Bahr
- Kris and Cullen Jenkins
- Vernon and Vontae Davis
10. Trevon and Stefon Diggs
Is it premature to put the Diggs brothers on this list? Sure. Trevon has only played three seasons and Stefon won’t turn 30 until November, so both have a lot left in their careers. Still, it’s hard to argue against them cracking this list.
Both are top-tier players at their respective positions. Each has one Associated Press All-Pro first-team nod and has made multiple Pro Bowls. That may not seem like much, but considering that Trevon is just 24, that’s impressive.
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Trevon had 11 interceptions in the 2021 season, a feat that only 28 players have achieved in NFL history. He was the first player to reach that total in 40 years, and he should continue to be an excellent ballhawk. He may get burned too much for many people’s liking, but that comes with the territory of taking chances at cornerback.
Stefon has logged five consecutive seasons of at least 1,000 receiving yards and led the league in catches (127) and yards (1,535) in his first season with the Bills in 2020. Winning a Super Bowl would add a lot to his legacy and further entrench the Diggses as one of the NFL’s best brother duos.
Their ranking right now is more about their potential to continue producing at a high rate. They’re certainly among the best pairs playing in the league at the moment.
9. Nick and Joey Bosa
The Bosa brothers are in a similar position as the Diggs brothers. They have more to prove, but it’s hard to argue against them given their career trajectory.
The Bosas are among the league’s best pass-rushers and have been since they first entered the league. They have combined for 112.5 sacks in 147 games. Each won the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award, marking the first time brothers done that.
Nick led the NFL with 18.5 sacks in 2022 and figures to continue to rack up double-digit totals so long as he remains healthy. The brothers will have a legitimate chance to surpass 200 combined sacks if they continue to play at that level, though health is a concern for Joey.
Still, they’ve done enough to earn a place on this list, and their combined stats should keep them on it.
8. Maurkice and Mike Pouncey
The Pouncey brothers dominated for a decade on the offensive line. They combined to start 258 games and were considered to be among the best centers in the NFL.
Maurkice was the more solid, consistent player. He played 10 seasons with the Steelers and made a Pro Bowl in all but one of them. He was named an All-Pro first-teamer twice and was generally dominant, working in tandem with Ben Roethlisberger to lead a top-notch Steelers offense.
Mike’s career was more up and down. He struggled with snapping inconsistency early in his career and endured injury issues during his later days. Still, he carved out a role for himself and made four Pro Bowls during his nine-year career.
Offensive linemen don’t get a lot of love, but the Pounceys deserve it. They both had strong careers and Maurkice was considered one of the best centers of the 2010s. The only thing missing from their résumé is a Super Bowl, and Maurkice almost won one of those in his first year with the Steelers.
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7. Randall and Sam Cunningham
Randall Cunningham established himself as a different type of quarterback from the start of his career with the Eagles. He leaned on his mobility to become a true dual-threat quarterback. His 4,928 rushing yards were the most among quarterbacks all time at the time of his retirement. It now ranks fourth.
Cunningham was an MVP runner-up three times during his career and was named an AP All-Pro first-teamer once. He wasn’t always consistent and took plenty of hits because of his playing style, which led him to be sacked 484 times during his career (ninth-most in NFL history).
Still, he found a way to make big passing plays. He totaled 29,979 passing yards and 207 touchdowns. He produced two seasons with at least 30 passing touchdowns — one with the Eagles and one with the Vikings.
Indeed, Randall is the better-known and more successful of the Cunningham brothers, but Sam “Bam” Cunningham carved out a nice career for himself with the Patriots. He played nine seasons in New England and served as a running back and fullback, posting 5,453 yards and 43 touchdowns and making a Pro Bowl appearance.
Considering the staying power both Cunninghams had, it makes sense to include them on this list. You could make a case for them being ranked higher considering Randall’s individual accolades and overall performance.
6. Ronde and Tiki Barber
It’s hard to poke holes in the achievements of the Barber twins. Both had long, successful NFL careers and each achieved individual accolades.
Ronde had the longer career; he played 16 seasons, all with the Buccaneers. He first started a game in 1998, and from 1999 onward he started 215 consecutive games with Tampa Bay.
He was a solid ballhawk and once led the NFL with 10 interceptions, but he could do a bit of everything. He racked up 47 career picks, 28 sacks and 197 passes defensed, third-most in NFL history behind Champ Bailey and Johnathan Joseph. He made five Pro Bowl appearances, earned three first-team All-Pro nods and won a Super Bowl ring.
There is just one question about Barber that remains unanswered. Why isn’t he in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? He always seems to draw attention for it, but he has not yet made it in.
Tiki enjoyed a rock-solid NFL career himself. He posted six 1,000-yard seasons in his final seven years in the league. He was an All-Pro in 2005 when he totaled a league-high 2,390 scrimmage yards and finished fourth in MVP voting.
Tiki also averaged 5.2 and 5.1 yards per carry in his final two seasons before retiring. He still was playing well in his 30s and probably could have played a bit longer, like his brother, if he so desired.
5. J.J., Derek and T.J. Watt
The Watts are the only family on this list with three brothers. J.J., Derek and T.J. have had great to fine careers, but the two defensive players have achieved the most.
J.J. was the first Watt brother to get to the NFL, and he has been the best to date. He burst onto the scene with 20.5 sacks in his second season, and he used that as a catalyst to winning three Defensive Player of the Year awards. He is the only player in NFL history to post multiple 20-sack seasons; his brother is one of the few to post one.
T.J. tied the NFL’s single-season sack record when he recorded 22.5 in 2021. He achieved that in just 15 games. It marked the second time in as many seasons that he led the league in sacks.
Combined, J.J. and T.J. have 192 career sacks and eight All-Pro first-team nods. They also are the only brothers to both win Defensive Player of the Year. J.J. was also an MVP runner-up in 2014.
Derek isn’t bad, either. He has been rather anonymous as a fullback, but he has been a quality blocker with the Chargers and Steelers. He may not play at a Hall of Fame level, but his presence only strengthens the case of the Watt family as one of the NFL’s best.
4. Bruce and Clay Matthews
Offensive linemen don’t get a lot of love, but Bruce Matthews deserves it. The Oilers and Titans great played in 296 career games with 293 starts. He also made seven All-Pro teams, a feat achieved by only 25 players in NFL history.
Bruce not only had amazing longevity, he also was incredibly versatile. He mostly played on the interior offensive line, but he started a game at every offensive line position during his career. He was excellent at each, and that is what got him named to 14 Pro Bowls and, ultimately, voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Bruce’s older brother Clay was just as heralded, but his career was overshadowed by his brother and the performance of his son, Clay Matthews Jr.
Even still, Clay Sr. proved to be an excellent linebacker. He led the NFL in tackles four times and was the all-time leading tackler when he retired with 1,595. He also totaled 82.5 sacks, a number that his son would surpass, and a league-best 27 forced fumbles.
Both Matthews brothers played 19 years in the NFL. There’s a case for them being rated higher on this list, but Clay Sr.’s lack of an All-Pro nod was the tiebreaker.
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3. Sterling and Shannon Sharpe
It’s natural to want to put the Sharpe brothers higher on this list. After all, if Sterling had been able to avoid the neck injury that shortened his career, he almost certainly would have drawn Hall of Fame consideration.
Instead, we’re left to wonder about what he could have become.
Sterling was named an AP All-Pro three times despite playing just seven seasons. He led the NFL in catches in each of those All-Pro seasons, and he totaled 595 catches for 8,134 yards and 65 touchdowns during his brief career. He had a league-high 18 touchdowns in his final season.
While fans will wonder about the heights Sterling would have reached, there’s no doubt that Shannon helped to refine the utility of the tight end position. The Savannah State product slowly rose to prominence with the Broncos and earned his first Pro Bowl nod three years into his career.
He broke out from there. Sharpe posted three 1,000-yard seasons, and he totaled 10,060 yards and 62 touchdowns for his 14-year career. He was the NFL’s leader in targets (1,197), catch percentage (65.7) and yards per target (8.1) at the time of his retirement.
Shannon Sharpe earned four All-Pro nods and was voted to the Hall of Fame. That’s enough to vault the Sharpe brothers up this list, especially considering they have the best “what if” scenario among the group.
2. Jason and Travis Kelce
The Kelces aren’t getting an upgrade just because they are both playing in Super Bowl 57. It’s because both of them will almost certainly be inducted into the Hall of Fame when their playing careers are over.
Travis is a shoo-in for that honor. He has established himself as one of the best tight ends in NFL history. He has posted seven consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons and has been named an All-Pro four times. That’s despite having to compete for the honors with Rob Gronkowski, widely regarded as the greatest player to play the position.
Kelce’s 10,344 receiving yards are the fourth-most by a tight end in NFL history, and his career isn’t over. It might be hard for him to reach Tony Gonzalez’s mark of 15,127, but second-place Jason Witten (13,046) might be in reach.
Either way, Kelce has done enough to prove he belongs in the Hall of Fame, and so has his brother.
MORE: How Travis, Jason Kelce rose from Cincinnati to All-Pro siblings
Jason’s résumé may be more understated because he plays on the offensive line. That said, he has been an All-Pro first-teamer in five of his last six seasons and was a key part of the Eagles’ offensive line when Philadelphia won Super Bowl 52. He also routinely ranks as one of the best centers in the league, per Pro Football Focus, so the metrics back up the eye test.
For Jason, winning a second Super Bowl would bolster his Hall of Fame case, though he would still probably fall a bit short of the metrics of an average Hall of Fame center. Still, he certainly could get in, and if he and his brother do, it would be more history for the duo.
1. Peyton and Eli Manning
It’s hard to deny the Manning brothers the top spot. Peyton did most of the heavy lifting, but Eli’s two Super Bowl wins gave the brothers four total and case for being the No. 1 pair.
Peyton’s career was nothing short of legendary. He is clearly an all-time top-five quarterback. He was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, a seven-time All-Pro, a five-time MVP and a two-time Super Bowl winner. The second one came in the final game of his career.
Manning led the NFL in touchdown passes four times — including a record 55 in 2013, which still stands — and threw for 71,940 yards and 539 touchdowns. His counting stats are among the best in NFL history, and he has been rewarded accordingly.
The argument for Eli isn’t quite as strong. In truth, he put up middling stats with a 117-117 record, 60.3 completion percentage and 366 touchdowns compared to 244 interceptions.
That said, Eli led the Giants to Super Bowl victories over the Patriots and was named Super Bowl MVP in each contest. Those accolades are important, especially the first Super Bowl and MVP given that he was able to prevent New England from logging a perfect 19-0 season.
Eli might not make the Hall of Fame, but he will have a chance because of his ring count. Even if he doesn’t, when combining his achievements with those of Peyton, it’s clear that the Manning brothers are the class of the NFL’s sibling duos. They both played the league’s most important position, and both played it well.