In 1990, the Washington Redskins signed a towering free agent named James “Jumpy” Geathers to add defensive line depth.
On Thursday, the team looked to the next generation of the Geathers family, signing nephew Clifton Geathers to play defensive end.
At 6-foot-7 and 290 pounds, Jumpy Geathers’ biggest asset was country strength he developed in the tobacco fields of rural Georgetown County, S.C. Geathers spent three seasons of a 13-year professional career in Washington, where he patented the “forklift” move and contributed to a Super Bowl XXVI championship.
Clifton said any moves he learned from his uncle are family secrets. One family heirloom is plain to see. At 6-foot-8, Clifton inherited the height gene.
After playing his college ball at South Carolina, Geathers was drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He spent time with Miami, Seattle, Dallas, Indianapolis – and most recently – Philadelphia.
The Geathers family name is well known in NFL circles.
Clifton’s father, Robert Geathers Sr., played six years for the Bills, and his older brother, Robert Jr., spent the last 10 years as defensive end with the Cincinnati Bengals. His younger brother Kwame spent 2013 as a rookie with the San Diego Chargers.
Lucky for Clifton, he’s already familiar with the D.C. Metro system.
The lede from Ken Murray’s Baltimore Sun game story covering a 1991 matchup between the Redskins and the Steelers can tell you better than I can.
“Charles Mann calls it a ‘warehouse move,’ Jumpy Geathers calls it ‘The Forklift’ and the Washington Redskins yesterday called it a godsend.”
After a little research, I will name this piece the definitive historical reference point for “The Forklift.”
Playing in place of Mann, Geathers had two sacks and a forced fumble in a 41-14 win for Washington.
“I use it on guys who get too high,” Geathers said. “I try to pick the whole guy up and walk him back.”
“Nobody in football can do it,” Mann said. “If I tried it, by the time I’d get to the quarterback, the game would be over.”
“Jumpy is an exceptional person with the length of his arms, and he is a strong person to be that angular,” center Jeff Bostic said. “He’s got a knack for getting the move sunk on you.”
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