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Brothers in Arms

Peyton Manning, whose Colts start season tonight, and rookie Eli are among five pairs of sibling NFL quarterbacks

September 09, 2004|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

O, brother where art thou?

Try looking in Seattle, Kansas City, Indianapolis, New York and Cleveland. Take a peek in Arizona, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Washington. Peyton and Eli Manning, you see, aren't the only brothers playing quarterback in the NFL. There are four other sets of slinging siblings around the league -- the McCowns, Detmers, Huards and Hasselbecks -- meaning nearly a third of NFL teams are part of the family circle.

One of the brothers, Peyton Manning, begins his season tonight when his Indianapolis Colts play at New England in a rematch of last season's AFC championship game.

The five sets of quarterback brothers is a record number, according to the league, which had two previous passing tandems in Terry and Craig Bradshaw, and, in the 1920s, Ed and Joey Sternaman.

The current crop makes for double-takes galore.

"Like my dad says, 'If you've seen Ty, you've seen Koy,' " said Ty Detmer, who backs up Michael Vick in Atlanta. "I play with guys now who have played with Koy in Philly, and they're like, 'You guys play exactly alike.' "

Not only were the Detmers the first quarterback brothers to get starts in the NFL, they once pulled off a double Eagle; both were on Philadelphia's roster in 1997 before Koy wound up on injured reserve with a bum knee.

"That's the first time I've really gotten a chance to be on a team with him," said Ty, 36, six years older than Koy. "When I was leaving high school, he was just coming in. Same thing in college. He was kind of my tag-along growing up."

The two got along famously as teammates, except for Koy's habit of being too coy when the dinner check arrived.

"He might be one of the tightest persons you've met," Ty said. "If there's a free handout, he's there for it."

Even the Eagle media guide documents that, noting the team's backup quarterback "travels to road games with the clothes on his back, his playbook and a toothbrush. In fact, he goes to Target each summer to get a new travel ensemble that he wears on each trip. Koy bragged, 'I can get an entire outfit for under 100 bucks.' "

It seems the little brothers in the quarterback club -- Koy, Eli, Seattle's Brock Huard, Cleveland's Luke McCown and Washington's Tim Hasselbeck -- wind up catching most of the ribbings.

In no family is that more evident than the Huards, where Damon has a 2-0 edge in Super Bowl rings thanks to his former role as backup to Tom Brady in New England. Damon, who began his career in Miami, is undefeated in games against his little brother.

That's enough to leave Brock, who's on injured reserve, peep-less in Seattle.

"Big bro is 5-0 against little bro, so that's always nice," said Damon, now with Kansas City. "But it wasn't like we were playing in the games. I think Brock had a little mop-up in one. That being said, there isn't a lot to rub in."

Although the Detmers were the first quarterback brothers to start games, the Huards were the first to start on the same Sunday. That was in 2000, when Damon's Dolphins were playing Indianapolis, and Brock's Seahawks were playing Denver.

Mike and Peggy Huard, who live in Puyallup, Wash., went to a local sports bar so they could watch both games at once. When Brock was hit in the back in the second half and sustained a bruised kidney that knocked him out of the game, his parents sped 45 minutes north to Seattle to be with him at the hospital. They missed Damon throwing a touchdown pass with two minutes remaining to defeat the Colts.

"That was a bit of a stressful day," recalled Mike Huard, who retired in 1997 after coaching 26 years of high school football in the Tacoma area.

Four of the five fathers of the quarterback brothers were either football players or coaches. Sonny Detmer is a legendary high school coach in Texas, Archie Manning was a star quarterback at Mississippi and with the New Orleans Saints and Don Hasselbeck spent nine seasons as an NFL tight end.

The only dad with very limited football experience is Pat McCown, and he could have had three sons playing in the NFL. Josh and Luke's older brother, Randy, played quarterback at Texas A&M and in the Arena Football League before quitting football to join his father in the shipping-pallet business.

Pat McCown didn't give much football advice to his sons. He only asked that, when throwing the ball, they threw it in an over-the-top fashion.

"The first question people ask is, 'Where's your dad coach?' He didn't coach," Josh said. "The only thing he ever did was he taught us how to throw. He wouldn't let us throw sidearm. He just made sure we threw it the correct way. That was it."

The boys spent their summers tearing apart broken wooden pallets and hammering together new ones, grueling minimum-wage work in the withering Texas heat and humidity.

"That was the common thread with us," Josh said. "We learned how to work hard and understood the value of a dollar and what it meant. We all had that similar passion that drove us."

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