Why yes, I am related to Mike Vrabel, sort of

Yes, Mike Vrabel currently has more Super Bowl touchdowns than me, but it's early in my career

Island Packet – Though a proud and hardy bunch, we Vrabels are not, nor have ever been, what anyone could remotely call famous. None of us has ever invented anything important (with the exception of my uncle’s failed attempt to patent his long-in-production Taffy Pants), no one has ever been the king, emir or despotic ruler of anything (although I must say that I ran the Crown Point Hub Pool concession stand in high school with an iron fist), no one has starred in a movie (although I do have a brief cameo in the miserable 1993 comedy “Rookie of the Year” as Baseball Crowd Member #12,064). No, we are an understated and swarthy people, simple folk with simple means and simple goals, except my cousin Kevin, who wants very much to be a pirate.

So imagine our surprise, our thrill, our elementary-schoolgirl glee when we first learned about our collective tangential, fragile and probably fictional connection to Mike Vrabel, linebacker for the Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots, who already owns three Super Bowl rings, who has caught two Super Bowl touchdown passes, who is according to the Elias Sports Bureau the only player to have two touchdown catches and a sack in the same game, and whose inclusion here will dramatically increase this column’s Google hits.

People ask all the time if I’m related to Mike Vrabel, and each time I immediately reply yes, for three reasons:

  1. My last name is Vrabel, so we’re closer to related than we are not related;
  2. It sounds cool; and
  3. Sometimes it gets you a free beer, if you’re in Boston. Also, if I keep saying it enough, I figure there’s at least a small chance he’ll send me a jersey (size Extra Waifish).

But in reality, I have no idea if we have the slightest bit to do with each other, other than the fact that he looks a little bit like my brother, if my brother were to put on 300 lbs. of sheer muscle mass and become extremely rich. But there’s no concrete evidence that I know of, which, of course, does nothing to stop me from routinely referring to Mike as my cousin, brother and sometimes father, depending on the crowd around me and how much beer I’ve consumed.

Now before you judge me for what admittedly amounts to a series of bald-faced lies, let me argue that for a red-blooded American male without any athletic skill that doesn’t involve Tetris, whose name is an ungodly gumbo of Eastern European consonants that apparently translates roughly into the extremely twerpy-sounding “little bird,” there are few thrills more thrilling, even if they have nothing to do with you, than hearing the words “Touchdown, Vrabel!” in the Super Bowl. It’s crazy, and the sheer, unrelenting joy of it the first time caused me literally to leap out of my seat and pump both fists in the air, causing all manner of chaos in the traffic behind me.

Besides, Mike has done great things for our family. Sure, our name still puts you in the back of the class alphabetically, as well as sounds like the sound you’d make if you were trying to consume a Yo-Yo without chewing it, but now, we no longer have to take 12 minutes spelling our names over the phone if the person on the other line is a football fan (“No, V as in VICTOR, R, A … no, no, V … VICTOR …” – seriously, at this point I’ve started a collection of Sea Pines passes that spell my name with Bs, Ds and Qs).

But mostly, he’s allowed me to get behind a winning sports team, which, having grown up as a Cubs fan for some reason, is no small favor. And the name recognition alone will make it much easier for Uncle Jim to get his taffy pants funding.


About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

12 responses to “Why yes, I am related to Mike Vrabel, sort of

  • Tricia Shatney

    Ohhh I knew you would have something to say about Mike Vrabel! I think it is extremely cool that you give props to him, he is, afterall, THE BEST linebacker in the NFL!! I hope you are going to the Super Bowl and will report back all the glory of the game! I am sure you will hear, “Touchdown, Vrabel” once again!! Go Pats!!!


  • Bradshaw

    Super Bowl rings:

    Bradshaw = 5 (four from my uncle Terry, 1 from my cousin Ahmad)

    Vrabel = 3

    Better hope your son gets into football shape soon, because Mike Vrabel ain’t gettin’ any younger, but Cousin Ahmad just finished his rookie year.


  • dvrabel

    I had to laugh. I am a Vrabel (by marriage) who lives in Ohio (where he grew up) and we have a son Mike who is around the same age and height as THE Mike Vrabel (although at least 100 lbs lighter). So When people ask if Mike Vrabel is any relation, I can honestly say he is my son. I did see on a geneaology site that if everyone who spells it ending in el is from the same family from the village of Circ, Czechoslovakia. Your V as in Victor also is a daily reality for me. Your writing is hilarious. Thanks.


  • 136xcrosszflag

    I enjoyed reading your column. I am actually family friends with the real mike vrabel and stumbled upon your page while looking up some of his stats. I was @ super bowl 36 in Houston when he caught that touchdown pass that you were talking about, and although my last name isn’t vrabel, i still shared in the same excitement. Do you live in Ohio? Whats your address, i’ll see if i cant get something sent to you. No promises.

    Pats Fan

    PS. My name, as it appears in this post is the play that was called by brady when mike checked in as pass eligible in the super bowl.


  • JVrabel


    Wow its funny what you get when you Google your name.
    Mine happens to be Jon Michael Vrabel I live in northern Va.
    My Grandpa is Mikes fathers brother wooo mouth full. Or family originated yes in Ohio and Allen town Pa. I met my cousin once at a family reunion but that was MANY years ago back in ohio state days. I have tried to get my grandpa or uncle George to set something up for me to meet him again. Never any luck, But it would make my day thats for sure. Im always trying to get to a bar to catch every game even if im getting yelled at for being the onlt Pats jersey their haha. So 136xcrosszflag if you ever get the chance Tell him he has closer family that are huge fans out their that would love to meet him again.
    Great Read guys,
    Thanks, Jon


  • dogboysdad

    We are not related to the Vrabel family that I know of. But, my family did come from the village of Circ, Czechoslovakia. Maybe we are all related?


  • avrabel

    I’m a Vrabel and I’ve grown up giving my fair share of “V-as-in-Victor-R-A-B-as-in-baseball-E-L” also. I get asked if I’m related to Mike pretty regularly — although more when I’m in New England than when I’m home in Jacksonville — and tend to answer that he brings the potato salads to our reunions.


  • aleara vrabel

    i am mike’s fifth cousin he doest know but whith the last name vrabel i am related to him


  • Rob Vrabel

    Haha….great post man, obviously my last name is vrabel too….i dont know how many times i have had to spell my name phonetically, you had me cracking up at the v as in victor, r, a, ……no not b, its v like victor……


  • Mike Vrabel

    V as in Victor R, A, B as in boy, E as in Edward and L as in Larry, We must all be related somewere down the line.


  • Sue Vrabel-Leidig

    Great article…..I have been told I’m a cousin also…. many Mike Vrabel’s in my family.
    Good luck meeting The Mike! Send him your article.


  • Cole McLaughlin

    I’m cousins with micheal vrabel becuz I get VIP at his games for free Becuz my uncle name is Andy vrabel he has a daughter named Christi


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