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Tom Jones: Brothers in sports

tom jones' two cents

Throughout sports history, we've had brothers facing brothers. But we've never seen anything like we're going to see next week when two brothers coach against one another in the Super Bowl. • John Harbaugh of the Ravens goes against Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers in a game that has become by far the biggest sporting event in this country. That makes this the greatest brother-versus-brother matchup of all time. • Through the ages we've seen plenty of brother acts. There are the DiMaggios, the Aarons and, of course, football brothers Ronde of the Bucs and twin Tiki of the Giants. We have had hockey twins (Sedins), NBA coaching brothers (Van Gundys) and even more baseball brothers — the Alomars, Boones and Molinas among them. • A quick glance at 10 of the more intriguing matchups between brothers:

Eli and Peyton Manning

Though the Harbaughs coaching in the Super Bowl is a much-anticipated matchup, the one Super Bowl showdown NFL fans have always wanted to see is Eli and Peyton. It hasn't happened on that stage, and time is running out. Peyton turns 37 in March. The quarterbacks have faced each other twice in the regular season, with Peyton winning both matchups while he was with the Colts. In those games, Peyton combined for five touchdown passes and one interception; Eli, 32, had four touchdown passes and two interceptions. Eli, however, has more Super Bowl rings. He has two. Big brother has one.

Phil and Tony Esposito

It doesn't get much more talented that this when it comes to brothers. Lightning founders Phil, above left, and Tony Esposito are hockey royalty. Phil is one of the greatest goal scorers in NHL history, and brother Tony is one of the best goalies. Both are Hall of Famers. Phil once joked that he once scored a hat trick against his brother but his team lost by a goal and fans complained it was because he didn't want to score any more against Tony.

Racing brothers

Car racing has long been a family affair, and we've seen a bunch of brothers rub paint with one another. There have been the Labontes (Bobby and Terry), the Burtons (Jeff and Ward), the Allisons (Donnie and Bobby) and the Bodines (Geoff, Brett and Todd). But the best brother rivalry in racing is Kurt and Kyle Busch. Neither is exactly beloved by the rest of the drivers on the NASCAR circuit, but these two even get on each other's nerves (and bumpers). They wrecked each other during a 2007 race, and that started a bit of a feud that lasted for a while.

George and Ken Brett

George Brett, top left, is best known for being one of the best baseball players and finest hitters in history. Ken Brett is best known as George's brother. Actually, Ken was a decent pitcher who hung around for 14 seasons, albeit with 10 teams. And like his brother, he wasn't bad with a bat, at least for a pitcher. He was a lifetime .262 hitter. George, who spent his 21-year career with the Royals, had 20 plate appearances against Ken with six hits for a .300 average but no homers and only one RBI.

The Sutter brothers

The Sutters are the first family of hockey, and when you consider their sheer numbers, the most successful brother act in sports. Incredibly, six brothers made the NHL. A Sutter brother was in the NHL from 1976 to 2001 with what seems like every team, including the Lightning (Rich Sutter played four games in 1995). There were even times the brothers fought. The battle of the brothers has continued after their playing days. Darryl, Brian and Brent went on to become NHL head coaches for a bunch of teams (Darryl is the Kings' current coach). All three coached for the Flames at some point. None of the brothers have met in the Stanley Cup final as coaches.

Brook and Robin Lopez

Hockey has a set of twins with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, but they play on the same team in Vancouver. The Lopez twins of the NBA play on different teams. They also the most odd-looking brother act because of their freakish size; both are 7 feet tall. Brook plays for the Nets. Robin plays for the Hornets. You can see what a basketball player playing against himself in a mirror looks like when they play each other Feb. 26 in New Orleans.

Pau and Marc Gasol

These two NBA big men have nearly identical numbers. Pau, above right, averages 12.7 points per game for the Lakers, little brother Marc 13.2 for the Grizzlies. The difference is Marc, 28 on Tuesday, is just about at his career average, and Pau, 32, is way down from his 18.5 career average and could be on the trading block.

The Staal brothers

They are the modern-day version of the Sutters, with four hockey-playing brothers. Eric, Marc and Jordan play in the NHL. Jared is in the minors for the eighth season. The Rangers' Marc is a solid defenseman known for hard hits, which once included a smashing check against Eric. But in 2011 Eric hit Marc so hard that Marc was sidelined for more than two months with a concussion. Jordan, a fixture with the Penguins for six seasons, was traded to Carolina last summer and now is teammates with Eric.

Phil and Steve Mahre

Two of the best skiers in American history were twins and had their showdown in the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo. Phil, left, won the gold in the slalom, nipping Steve, who took the silver. Phil raced down the mountain in 1 minute, 39.41 seconds. Steve, who is four minutes younger than Phil, was less than a blink of an eye behind at 1:39.62. They also competed on the World Cup circuit from 1976 to 1984, with Phil holding the edge, winning three World Cup titles to none for Steve.

Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko

This boxing brother act is known for refusing to face one another. Vitali, 41, is a longtime WBC world heavyweight champ. Little brother Wladimir, 36, holds all the other heavyweight crowns, including WBO and IBF. Maybe they would play basketball or hockey against one another. Maybe they'd be willing to stand on the opposite sides of a pingpong table. But there is no way they are going to get into the ring and try to rearrange the other one's face. They have never fought, and they say they never will.

Tom Jones: Brothers in sports 01/26/13 [Last modified: Saturday, January 26, 2013 11:54pm]
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