What do Bobby Bonds and Barry Bonds have in common with Ken Griffey, Sr. and Ken Griffey, Jr.? Answer: They were/are all famous father and son Major League baseball players. It is becoming more and more common to see these father and son “spin offs” when it comes to famous athletes. Other famous athletes and their sons that come to mind are Archie Manning, Peyton Manning, and Eli Manning (NFL); Calvin Hill (NFL) and Grant Hill (NBA); Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (NASCAR). There are even female athletes that follow in their fathers “footsteps” such as Laila Ali and Muhammad Ali. It happens not only in athletics, but also in politics, and medicine.
What makes a child want to follow their famous father into their profession? Could it be that the sport or profession is considered the “family business” and it is expected that “Jr.” will follow dear old Dad when he retires? Some believe that it is when their children see their fathers so driven and determined to reach their goal that nothing can stand in their way. Others say it is just the love or passion for the game. Whatever the reason, there are many who follow in their parents’ footsteps.
For those who do pursue a career after their famous fathers there can be many obstacles to overcome. In addition to the normal hurdles that everyone else has to overcome, children of famous athletes may find it very difficult to live up to the unrealistic expectations of fans. For example, if you’re the child of say, a Michael Jordan, or a Joe Montana, who can really live up to that kind of standard. Michael Jordan is considered to be the very best NBA basketball player who ever lived. He won six NBA Championships and five Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards. Joe Montana is arguably one of the best NFL quarterbacks to ever play the game. He won four Super Bowls and has been named Super Bowl MVP three times. Reportedly, both Michael Jordan and Joe Montana have children that are pursuing a career in professional sports.
Another obstacle can be the instant celebrity status of these young athletes and their famous fathers. Everything they do seems to be under a microscope. One mistake and it’s front page news. Unfortunately, there are those athletes that turn to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to help them escape the pressures of their celebrity life. Other athletes turn to performance-enhancing drugs to help them overcome mediocrity.
One family who appears to be very well adjusted is the Manning family. Archie Manning was a NFL quarterback with the New Orleans Saints for many years, but had no NFL championship ring. However, both of his sons, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning, have won an NFL Championship and a Super Bowl MVP award. Neither Peyton nor Eli comes across as arrogant because of the “NFL pedigree”, or their accomplishments. In fact, the only one who appears to be having any difficulty in adjusting is Archie Manning, when has to see his two grown up children make those ridiculous commercials.