Jake Long was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft and is a four-time Pro-Bowler who signed a $36 million dollar contract over the offseason. His brother, Joe, made around $5,700 in weekly salary last season as a late addition to the Steelers' practice squad.
Famous bloodlines might help aspiring players get a foot in the door, but it guarantees nothing in the NFL. Joe Long and Mike Golic, Jr., whose father and uncle played a combined 22 years in the NFL, are discovering the long, hard road of trying to make it in the league as undrafted free agents.
Both will enter the Steelers' first preseason game Saturday night against the New York Giants as third-stringers who face long odds to make the 53-man roster.
Golic, Jr., son of ESPN radio personality Mike Golic and a rookie from Notre Dame, is behind Ramon Foster and Justin Cheadle at left guard.
Long, a second-year player who played at Division II Wayne State University, is behind left tackles Mike Adams and Kelvin Beachum.
Long, who spent the final five weeks of the season on the Steelers' practice squad in 2012, said he never felt pressure living up to his older brother's feats.
"I kind of just looked at it like he did his thing and I'm a totally different person and I'll do my thing," said Long, who recently turned 24.
"We have totally different stories. I always looked up to him as a role model, and he was always there for me no matter what."
Jake Long was a big-time recruit who played before crowds of 110,000 at the University of Michigan. Joe's only offers to play Division I football came from Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan, which both wanted to him as a preferred walk-on.
At Wayne State, he was a four-year starter and good enough to be signed as an undrafted free agent by the St. Louis Rams in the spring. He was cut in August and out of football until the Steelers signed him Nov. 28.
Having an older brother who excels in the league at the same position has been a big benefit for Joe.
"It's huge," he said. "He was definitely a role model to look up to. He's a great football player. When he was leaving for Michigan, I was just going to be a freshman in high school. That's something you definitely look up to and be like, hopefully, I can do that someday.
"Whenever I needed help with anything, he was definitely a good lifeline to call and help me out, especially coming out of college to the pros. He was No. 1 overall, and I was undrafted, so it was a huge difference there. He's always calling me and giving me advice.
"It's certainly helpful to have someone like that to lean on. Even during camp, if I have a question with anything, I can just call and ask him. It's a great thing to have at any time."
Golic, Jr. was 4 when his dad retired in 1993, but he has received helpful advice from his dad and uncle Bob, a longtime adversary of Steelers Hall of Fame center Mike Webster when he was a nose tackle for the Browns in the 1980s.
"They said be willing to fight for every inch and do every little bit it takes on and off the field, whether it's in the classroom studying film or in the weight room taking care of your body," Golic, Jr. said. "That's the biggest thing I got, especially from my dad. He came in the league in a similar situation. He was a 10th-round draft pick.
"Back then, you really had to fight year in and year out for a spot. He said you're going to have to go in and take it. Your road is a lot tougher than guys who were drafted in the first or second round.
"You have a lot to prove and you're going to have to show them something every day."
Unlike his father and uncle, who were defensive linemen in the NFL, Golic, Jr. is an offensive lineman. A guard at Notre Dame, Golic, Jr. is playing guard and tackle in training camp and hopes to demonstrate that his versatility can be an asset.
"I'm probably not athletic enough to be a defensive lineman," Golic, Jr. said, with a smile. "It just always came natural for me as an offensive lineman.
"As much as it stung dad, he was very supportive of it. Obviously, it's helpful having him to talk to just because you get that perspective from the other side of the ball. He went against great offensive linemen and he tells me things they did that gave him problems."
Golic, Jr. and Long have a couple of more weeks to make an impression on the coaches. Long is more comfortable about his surroundings and his prospects after joining the team in the middle of last season.
"Coming in last year after I got cut from St. Louis, I was out of football for a while," he said. "I was a little rusty and underweight. I think there's a huge difference between my play this year and on the practice squad last year.
"We're all trying to get better. Hopefully, I'm getting on their radar, and we're getting better as a team."
Said Golic, Jr.: "Consistency at this level is extremely valued. Like coach [Mike] Tomlin always says the more you can do. Whenever they want to stick me on the offensive line, I'm more than willing to jump right into that and learn as much as I can about each spot and try to help this team. Wherever they want to plug me in, it doesn't matter to me. I'll work the hardest I can and give my absolute best wherever I am."
Ray Fittipaldo: email@example.com and Twitter @rayfitt1. First Published August 8, 2013 4:00 AM