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Krugers' strength shows family really is all about time

Published: Tuesday, June 30 2015 4:03 p.m. MDT

Cleveland Browns linebacker Paul Kruger, right, talks to his brother, defensive lineman Dave Kruger, after training camp practice at the NFL football team's facility in Berea, Ohio Friday, July 26, 2013.  (Mark Duncan, AP) Cleveland Browns linebacker Paul Kruger, right, talks to his brother, defensive lineman Dave Kruger, after training camp practice at the NFL football team's facility in Berea, Ohio Friday, July 26, 2013. (Mark Duncan, AP)

Paul Kruger Sr. leads what you might call Utah's "first family" of football. With three sons and a son-in-law on current NFL rosters, things can get a little hectic in the Kruger house.

“It’s a lot of stress. I played college football, and when my wife and I got married we kind of said early on that our kids aren’t playing football."

When his namesake, Paul, Jr., was in elementary school, however, football became an issue. The boy wanted to play, and the parents still said, "No."

Paul, Sr., who was travelling quite a bit for his job, came home from a trip when his wife, Jennifer, informed him, "I signed Paul, Jr., up for football today. And by the way, you’re the head coach.”

Jennifer smiled and explained, “I knew that my husband was good at it and I figured who better could coach my son than my husband.”

Cleveland Browns linebacker Paul Kruger (99) chases a play during drills at the NFL football team's facility in Berea, Ohio, Friday, July 26, 2013.  (Mark Duncan, AP) Cleveland Browns linebacker Paul Kruger (99) chases a play during drills at the NFL football team's facility in Berea, Ohio, Friday, July 26, 2013. (Mark Duncan, AP)

Paul, Sr., ended up coaching all four of his sons through high school, usually bringing the younger boys with to play with older teams.

Being the coach's kid wasn't a picnic. “He would make us run so much. Worst conditioning I’ve ever done,” Paul, Jr., said. ”I just remember looking at my dad and wondering, ‘Why are you doing this? I’m your son!’"

Dave and Joe followed their older brother's footsteps not only to the University of Utah, but into the NFL. Dave followed Paul, Jr., to the Cleveland Browns, whild Joe was a seventh round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles. (They join their brother-in-law Tony Bergstrom, who plays for the Oakland Raiders.) Youngest son Mark recently received a call to serve an LDS mission in Australia.

Philadelphia Eagles' Joe Kruger listens to a question during an availability after rookie camp at the team's NFL football practice facility on Friday, May 10, 2013, in Philadelphia.  (Matt Slocum, AP) Philadelphia Eagles' Joe Kruger listens to a question during an availability after rookie camp at the team's NFL football practice facility on Friday, May 10, 2013, in Philadelphia. (Matt Slocum, AP)

It's no surprise that coaching his boys is what Paul, Sr., considers "the single greatest thing I've ever done in my life." What's intriguing, however, is why he did it.

“It wasn’t (to) coach," he explained. "(It was to) spend time with my kids. I believe that when you’re older in life that you’ll look back and wish that you’d spent more time with those kids.”

Jennifer concurred. “The most priceless things in life aren’t things that you can buy, but they’re relationships and time.”

As Paul, Jr., Dave, Joe and Tony all head out to NFL training camps, and Mark leaves on his mission, there may even be some breathing room to reflect on all the success.

Well, it's about time.

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