New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush is picked up by offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb after Bush scored on the 2-point conversion in a game on Oct. 21, 2007 in New Orleans. (File Photo)
It could have been a burden.
Jon Stinchcomb’s older brother by two years, Matt, set the family bar pretty high as an All-American football player at the University of Georgia, where he also was one of the nation’s most decorated scholar-athletes. He was a first-round pick in the NFL Draft, eventually playing seven seasons in the league and reaching the Super Bowl.
The younger Stinchcomb never viewed the situation as stressful, though, even as he followed many of the same paths as Matt. He actually surpassed some of his older brother’s achievements, carving out his own road to success by using his sibling as both a role model and motivation.
It’s why Jon Stinchcomb’s decision to have Matt introduce him Friday as a Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame inductee was an easy one.
“(Matt) has been extremely influential in my life, he’s a great role model,” Jon said. “I’m sure he’s really the only reason I’m being inducted, because of the nepotism that exists. I’m not sure he had a vote, but he had to buy a couple (laughs). On a serious note, being as fortunate as I was to see him go through the process of working hard in high school, having an opportunity to play at the collegiate level and a chance to play in the professional ranks was great. You see the way things should be done and you hold yourself to a higher standard. I was always looking at him as someone to look up to.”
Stinchcomb racked up an amazing set of accolades himself on the football field, winning a state championship at Parkview (Matt didn’t have one) and a Southeastern Conference title at UGA (Matt didn’t get one of those, either). He also won a Super Bowl championship (sorry Matt) as a New Orleans Saints starting offensive tackle, picking up Pro Bowl honors as a protector of quarterback Drew Brees.
Academically, he had a 4.0 grade-point average until he made his first B in college. He graduated with honors in microbiology and a minor in religion, earning the prestigious NCAA Top 8 Award, which recognizes the top scholar-athlete from any sport at any NCAA level for accomplishments on the field, in the community and in the classroom. Matt earned that award as well, and both brothers have been inducted into the exclusive UGA Circle of Honor.
Those honors easily qualified Stinchcomb for induction into the Gwinnett Hall of Fame, joining his brother Matt, who was part of the 2010 inaugural class.
“We’re both so proud to have been able to play in Gwinnett and to be from Gwinnett,” Jon Stinchcomb said. “To think about all the truly special athletes that have come from this county and to be recognized as one of the better ones is humbling. To see the others I’m inducted with his class, that was exciting.”
The 34-year-old is now in a stage of life — post-NFL football — that his older brother has experienced already.
He wasn’t in a huge hurry to fill his schedule back up after his 2010 football retirement, focusing his time on a move back to Gwinnett (he settled in the Archer district) and time with his wife Ali and their two children, son Nathan, 4, and daughter Emily Gray, who turns 2 this month.
“I am enjoying it, there’s a lot more family time,” Stinchcomb said. “It’s opened the doors to a lot of opportunities and experiences I’m very grateful to have. One of those is spending a lot of times with our two kids when they’re at an age where they don’t go to school every day. It’s great to be able to raise your own kids.”
When Stinchcomb looked at the future steps of his life, he scrutinized each opportunity with the same question — does this justify me taking time away that I could be spending with my family? One in particular fit that parameter.
Through a speaking engagement at Brookwood’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle, Stinchcomb talked with longtime Bronco team chaplain Matt Williams, the found of NG3, a 501 (c)3 charity that stands for Next Generation: Character Community Change. It’s goal is to work directly with student-athletes at local high schools, building their character and teaching core values like responsibility, humility, integrity and honesty.
“The fact that it’s relationship-driven and it’s making positive changes really struck a chord with me,” Stinchcomb said.
NG3 currently serves five Gwinnett high schools — Archer, Berkmar, Brookwood, Grayson and South Gwinnett. Stinchcomb is director of operations, with primary goals of growth at an organizational level and partnering with new schools and sponsors.
The NG3 staff is optimistic about future expansion.
“If you talk to Matt (Williams), it’s only a matter of years before we take over the world,” Stinchcomb joked. “On a serious note, this coming year we’d like to be able to serve two or three more schools. Within the next five years, and Gwinnett County is obviously our target zone, we want it to be able to spread to as many schools as it can touch.”
Stinchcomb also accepted a recent opportunity in compounding pharmaceutical sales, a different course from Matt, who works in risk management and insurance. Jon also has no plans to pursue Matt’s other job as a college football TV analyst.
It’s safe to say the brotherly comparison days are over, unless they’re comparing induction ceremonies. The Gwinnett Sports Hall of Fame has outgrown its previous induction site in a suite at Coolray Field, trading it in for a large banquet and dinner at the Gwinnett Civic Center.
“They’ve stepped their game up,” Jon Stinchcomb said of the induction. “I thought it was a really nice function when Matt was inducted, but this will be great. Now the only worry is him complaining about how much nicer my induction is.”