In the lead up to UFC 145 and Jon Jones' title defense against Rashad Evans, the UFC sent out a press release calling Jones a member of "America's Most Athletic Family" and touting his family's accomplishments. Jon's older brother, Arthur, is a defensive tackle playing for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens while his younger brother, Chandler, is projected as a first or second round draft pick in this week's NFL draft.
To this point in their athletic careers, there's no doubt that Jon is leading the pack, having already become a UFC champion and arguably the best fighter in the history of mixed martial arts.
Arthur was taken in round 5 of the NFL draft, suffering a bit of a fall down the boards due to multiple injuries in college and some scouting concerns that his frame may have been a bit too small to play defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense (although possibly an ideal 3-4 option as an end). Arthur played in two games in his 2010 rookie season, picking up no tackles, and fourteen games (with one start) in his second season. In 2011 he picked up 20 tackles, putting him 67th in the league for a defensive tackle.
Chandler is coming into this year's NFL draft, which starts tomorrow night with the first round, as a much hotter commodity than Arthur was when he came out of college. Chandler is being considered by many to be "more potential than production" meaning that, while his numbers were good, he is being coveted more because of his measurables and potential than dominance at the NCAA level. Don't be confused, Chandler did put up good numbers and was a quality NCAA player, but it's his athletic upside that bumped him up from a projected 4th round pick into first round discussions over the past month or so. He does have some concerns, having picked up a knee injury in college and most scouts note a tendency to play too upright without a consistent ability to get off the ball.
So with all that said, let's talk a little about this "most athletic family in America" claim...Obviously, the claim is mostly UFC bluster, used to build up the Jon Jones story a bit. Arthur is a perfectly serviceable NFL roster player, unlikely to ever be a star but he could be a fairly reliable starter given the chance in the right system. Chandler projects as a starting defensive end but his lack of explosion off the ball is going to probably keep him from putting up the kind of sack numbers required to be a pro-bowl caliber player.
This lends itself to the argument that a pair of brothers who are two of the most successful quarterbacks in NFL history might have a claim to the sibling throne. I speak, of course, of Peyton and Eli Manning. Peyton's claim as arguably the best quarterback is supported by unbelievable statistical numbers and sustained success while Eli has two Super Bowl championships and spent 2011 putting together a phenomenal season. Having former NFL QB Archie Manning as a dad certainly doesn't hurt either.
Also in the sibling discussion would be Venus and Serena Williams. Serena ranks #4 and Venus #6 in all time WTA Grand Slam wins and they rank sixth and eleventh (first and third among active players) in overall title wins.
If we want to dip into the all-time discussion, I'd submit Jackie and Mack Robinson to the discussion. Mack was a former world record holder in the 200 meter sprint and picked up a silver medal in the 1936 Olympics and would be remembered as the fastest man of his time if not for Jessie Owens. Jackie broke the color barrier in baseball, an achievement which overshadows the fact that he was a phenomenal baseball player. Robinson could play almost any position on the field, could hit for a bit of power, was fast, hardly ever struck out while walking at a fairly high rate, hit for average well and had a mean streak. He was the perfect ballplayer.
And, if we're willing to extend past siblings into full families, I'd recommend the Matthews family. Clay Sr. played in the NFL, Clay Jr. ranks 16th in NFL history in games played with 278 and picked up four Pro Bowl selections, Clay III is in the NFL currently with a defensive player of the year award and three Pro Bowl selections, Bruce is one of the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history and a Hall of Fame inductee, Casey is a linebacker for the Eagles, Kevin is a center for the Titans, Jake and Mike are both playing for Texas A&M university. That's not too shabby for one family.
This is not to diminish the Jones family accomplishments. I just think it's an interesting discussion and, honestly, I just like to talk about sports. So cast your vote and defend your reasoning in the comments.