Making it to the NFL is an extremely difficult task for any football player. It's been estimated that only about 6.5 percent of high school football players go on to play at the NCAA level. Meanwhile, less than two percent of college football players get drafted into the NFL, and even fewer make it to the final roster of a team.
Many former players dream about their kids one day making it to the same level that they did as a professional athlete. They often got their children into football at a young age and hoped they would fall in love with it the way they did. They hope that their genes will help provide them with enough talent to one day make it to the NFL.
While that may be the ultimate dream, it takes a lot more than a recognizable name and a strong desire to get all the way to the pros. While the sons of former players may have a slight edge over many other potential prospects, it's still an extremely difficult goal to achieve.
The high level of difficulty in making it to the professional ranks makes it no surprise that there hasn't been a ton of NFL players' children making it to the same level. While second-generation NFL players are rare, third-generation players have been nearly impossible. Nonetheless, here are five football families who have accomplished third-generation feats so far.
The Kupp family
Cooper Kupp had an historic year during the 2021 season, winning the elusive triple crown for wide receivers and also being selected as the Super Bowl MVP. He has emerged as a superstar, but is also the most recent third-generation player.
Craig Kupp, Cooper's father, was drafted by the New York Giants in 1990 and played for the Arizona Cardinals during the 1991 season. Jake Kupp, Cooper's grandfather, played 12 seasons with four teams and made it to the Pro Bowl after being drafted in 1964.
The Chickillo family
Anthony Chickillo was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015, where he spent five seasons before playing a sixth with the Denver Broncos. His father, Tony Chickillo, played two seasons with the San Diego Chargers and one with the New York Jets.
Preceding both of them was Nick Chickillo, Anthony's grandfather. He was drafted in 1953 by the Chicago Cardinals, who would eventually become the Arizona Cardinals many years later. All three of the Chickillo's were defensive players, while Tony and Nick also spent some time as offensive linemen.
The Matthews family
The Matthews family is sometimes referred to as the royal family of the NFL. They have had seven members of their family make it to the NFL and many of them have found great success over the years. They have combined to appear in three Super Bowls while being selected to 25 Pro Bowls and being chosen as first-team All-Pros 11 times.
Three generations of Clay Matthews have made it to the league, including Sr., Jr., and III. Bruce Matthews, the other son of Clay Sr., is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Clay Jr. and Bruce combined for four sons in the NFL, including Clay III, Jake, Kevin, and Casey.
The Pyne family
Jim Pyne was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1994 before eventually being acquired by the Cleveland Browns in 1999 during their expansion draft. His father, George Pyne III, was drafted in 1965 by the Boston Patriots, known today as the New England Patriots.
George Pyne Jr., George III's father and Jim's grandfather, was never drafted. However, he played for the Providence Steam Rollers all the way back in 1931 during their final year of existence as a franchise before folding at the conclusion of the season.
The Higgins-Suhey family
Matt Suhey played the entire 1980s decade with the Chicago Bears as a running back after being selected in the second round of the 1980 NFL Draft. He was a key contributor for the 1985 Bears team that won a Super Bowl ring and is considered one of the best single-season teams of all time.
His father, Steve Suhey, was never drafted but played for two seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Matt's grandfather and Steve's father-in-law, Bob Higgins, played for the Canton Bulldogs during the first two years of their existence in 1920 and 1921. The franchise folded following the 1926 season, despite winning two NFL championships.