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Originally published Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 10:01 PM

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Steve Kelley

Defensive end Raheem Brock has followed father Zachary Dixon's NFL path, all the way to Seattle

Defensive end Raheem Brock, claimed by the Seahawks after being cut by Tennessee in September, has followed the career path of his father, Zachary Dixon.

Seattle Times staff columnist

RENTON — The family business is demanding and violent and exclusive.

The family business is risky business.

The odds are stacked mightily against the aspirants. There are only 1,696 active NFL roster spots, and the profession's career span is shorter than five years.

But even when he was in high school at Dobbins Tech in North Philadelphia, Raheem Brock knew he wanted to follow his father, Zachary Dixon, into the NFL. He wanted to be part of the family business.

"I think I can do as my father and get into college and make the pros," Brock told a Philadelphia newspaper after his high-school team had won the Philadelphia Public League championship. "I'm going to try, at least."

Few sons earn the opportunity to follow in their father's football footsteps. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, there have been 183 sets of fathers and sons in the league. Many of the last names are part of football royalty — Manning, Dorsett, Farr, Matthews, Shula, Metcalf, Winslow, Hasselbeck.

But probably no son has followed as precise a path as Brock, a Seahawks defensive end.

It's almost as if Brock's career arc has been guided by some familial GPS. He has taken almost the exact trail his father took, like stepping on the same neatly placed flagstones that led his father into the league.

Dixon played at Temple. So did Brock. Zachary played for the Philadelphia Eagles. Ditto Raheem. Dixon and Brock both played for the Colts, and they both have been Seahawks.

Dixon played on the 1980 Eagles Super Bowl team. Brock went to two Super Bowls with the Indianapolis Colts and won a ring in 2007.

"It's scary," Brock said of the coincidental career paths.

It sounds cool.

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"No, it's just plain scary," Brock said before practice this week. "Surreal almost. When the family talks about it, we think it's scary. It wasn't planned. It just happened that way. Scary."

The only dissimilarity is in the position they chose.

Brock spent most of his childhood with his mother, Patricia Brock, but lived with his father in Maryland in fifth grade and spent much of his summers with him. Brock played tight end, fullback and linebacker in high school, before growing into his role as a defensive end. His father was a running back and kick returner.

Dixon played six NFL seasons. This is Brock's ninth.

Longtime Hawks fans might remember Dixon's 59-yard kick return in Seattle's 27-20 playoff win at Miami in 1983. He led the league in kick-return yardage that year. And Dixon was part of the Hawks' running-back-by-committee in their 12-win season of 1984.

Present-day Hawks fans know about Brock's three sacks this season, including one in Sunday's win over Arizona.

Since coming to the Hawks on Sept. 6 after his release from the Tennessee Titans, Brock has added another pass-rushing weapon to the resurgent Hawks. He's become a dangerous bookend to defensive end Chris Clemons.

"(Defensive line coach) Danny Quinn was really fired up about the chance to get him, so we went after him," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said this week. "He's been a real good addition. A real active pass rusher. A very mobile guy. Good attitude about lovin' the pass-rush game and bringing it.

"He helps the other guys. He brings quite an array of moves, things that he demonstrates and helps the young guys learn. He's been a great addition for us."

Brock, 32, played with the Colts from 2002 through last season. He was part of the pass-rush rotation that included Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. He learned from them. He had 28.5 sacks in his years in Indianapolis.

"They had so many different moves. I tried to learn them all," said Brock, a seventh-round draft pick of the Eagles in 2002. "You had to (produce) when you played with those guys. And with our (Colts) offense, we scored a lot of points, so you knew the other team was going to be throwing the ball. That's what a pass rusher loves."

Brock is another example of the magic that can be mined from the waiver wire. The Hawks have pieced together a potential division winner by finding discarded role players who fit their specific needs.

"I think I've got a lot left," Brock said.

Growing up in a dangerous part of Philadelphia, Brock learned the importance of keeping his eyes on the prize. His father's example and his coaches' insistence kept him away from the dangers of the inner city.

"There were a lot of distractions, and you have to stay focused," Brock said. "I was lucky. I had a lot of people help me stay focused."

He beat enormous odds and made it into the family business. And nine years later, business is booming.

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com

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About Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
skelley@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2176

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