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James Allen Geathers will be 53 this month. And while the man better known to football fans as Jumpy may no longer possess the strength required to execute his patented forklift maneuver (in which, as a defensive tackle and end with the Saints, Redskins, Falcons and Broncos in the 1980s and '90s, he jacked offensive linemen off their feet and carried them into their quarterbacks), he still brings the scowl, that basilisk-like glower that disturbed the sleep of those very opponents.
Jumpy is a minute or so into his oration at the annual Geathers Elite Performance Football Camp in Georgetown County, S.C., on the morning of May 4, when he notices that he does not have the undivided attention of all 160 of the campers gathered on the field at Carvers Bay High.
"I don't like people talking when I'm talking," he says, fixing his pitiless gaze on a group of chatty 10- and 11-year-olds wearing the camp's PAY THE PRICE T-shirts. "Now somebody please talk, 'cause I'm getting upset."
No one obliges him.
You can't blame the kids for getting antsy. They signed up for a football camp but have spent the first 20 minutes resting on a knee, listening to speeches from former and current NFL players who urge them to choose their friends wisely, to mind their parents and to walk with the Lord.
"Stay prayed up," implores one speaker, who had earlier assured the kids that they could do great things. "It's not about where you start. It's not about who your family is."
Really? If that were true, then how come one can't swing a yard marker at this clinic without hitting a member of the Geathers family who played, is playing or will soon be playing in the NFL?
Jumpy's older brother, 56-year-old Robert—or Dab, as he's known—had cups of coffee in the early 1980s with the Bills and then the USFL's Boston Breakers. In '81 he married Debra Grimmage (whose father, according to family lore, was a giant of a man with hands like catcher's mitts). That couple had three sons: Robert Jr., now 29 and a defensive end going into his 10th season with the Bengals; Clifton, 25, a third-year defensive tackle with the Eagles, his sixth NFL team; and Kwame, 22, who made a slight miscalculation by entering the April NFL draft following three seasons at Georgia. Hurt by his ponderous 40 time at the combine—he trundled across the line in 5.44 seconds—the 6'5", 342-pound baby of the family went undrafted. Yet he appears to have landed on his feet. He signed as a free agent with the Chargers, whose 3--4 scheme and dearth of down linemen present an ideal fit for the prototypical nosetackle.
Of the 348 sets of brothers who have played pro football, according to an exhaustive list compiled by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, there are only 26 groups of three or more. And of those, only the Nessers (Al, Frank, Fred, John, Phil and Ted), the Rooneys (Bill, Cobb and Joe), the Kinderines (Hobby, Shine and Walt), the Browners (Joey, Keith and Ross), the Baldingers (Brian, Gary and Rich) and the Gronkowskis (Chris, Dan and Rob) have ever had three siblings on active rosters at the same time. Should Clifton and Kwame make their respective clubs (Robert, who signed a three-year, $9.5 million deal with Cincinnati in March, is a slam dunk), the Brothers Geathers would join that elite group.
But among those bros the Geathers are special: They would be the only active threesome begotten by an actual pro football player. With two generations of professionals, the Geathers's dynasty arguably would be surpassed in NFL history only by the Matthews clan, which boasts five NFL players over three generations.