The Geathers: 2 generations of NFL, college stars

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HEMINGWAY, S.C. (AP) - There has been plenty of NFL talent to come out of the state of South Carolina _ many from the Geathers family tree.

Brothers Jumpy and Robert Sr. are the patriarchs of a group that has produced six pro football players with more on the way. Jumpy, known as “The Human Forklift,” spent 13 seasons as an NFL defensive lineman and helped Washington win the Super Bowl in 1992. Robert Sr. played six years with the Buffalo Bills.

Robert’s sons, Robert Jr. and Clifton, are currently on NFL rosters. A third son, Kwame, is a rising junior defensive lineman at Georgia. Jumpy’s sons played football too, Jeremy at UNLV and Jarvis at UCF.

That’s a lot of football skill from one lineage out of small-town South Carolina.

The family recently talked with The Associated Press about their football heritage.

“It’s really kind of neat when you think about it,” said Adria Geathers, wife of Robert Jr. who’s preparing for his ninth season with the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Geathers’ group came together earlier this month for a family football camp designed to give something back to Carvers Bay High and the Georgetown County community where they grew up.

“This is something we’ve wanted to do for a while and we’re glad it happened,” said Clifton, who played at South Carolina and is on the Dallas Cowboys roster.

Robert Sr., who owns a car dealership, got things started when he starred at South Carolina State and was a third-round NFL draft pick for Buffalo. Younger brother Jumpy was right behind, going to Wichita State to play basketball before joining the football team for former South Carolina State coach Willie Jeffries.

Jumpy Geathers was taken in the second round by New Orleans in 1984 and played until the getting injured before the 1997 season with Denver, which went on to win the first of two straight Super Bowls.

Jumpy, known for his devastating forklift rush, finished with 62 sacks in a 13-season career at defensive tackle with the Saints, Washington, Atlanta and Denver.

“I’m still trying to catch up to my uncle,” Robert Jr. said.

Robert Sr. and Jumpy were part of a family of seven brothers who grew up harvesting tobacco in the rural fields of Georgetown County. Sports were natural distraction and football, as it is throughout most of the Southeast, was king at now closed Choppee High. The brothers passed the love of football on to their sons, but they also made sure their children put it its proper place behind faith and academics.

Friends and Carvers Bay teachers out to visit the camp recalled how the Geathers’ parents made excelling at school more important than a quarterback sack or fumble recovery.

“We’re all just here for a short time with nothing promised,” Jumpy said. “It’s important to know what matters most.”

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