Jerry Family

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Members of the Jerry family include (left to right) Peria, Oneitha, Tenisha, Priest and Anthony. The Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

Oneitha Jerry brags as only mom from Miss. with 2 sons in NFL

By Angie Ledbetter

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With Mississippi making its way to the top of the list of producers of NFL players, Onethia Jerry of Batesville has made her way into the history books also as the only mother having two sons in the National Football League at the same time from Mississippi.

Onethia is the mother of South Panola High School football alums Peria Jerry (#94), a 6’2”/ 294 defensive tackle for the Atlanta Falcons and  John Jerry (#74), a 6’5”/328  offensive guard for the Miami Dolphins.

“It’s great and it’s something my two sons always wanted to do,” said Onethia.

Peria was drafted 24th overall in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft to the Falcons and John was drafted 73rd overall in the third round a year later.

This is not the only set of brothers actively playing in the NFL. There are 17 other sets of brothers in the NFL but not from Mississippi.

Oneithia moved from Memphis to Batesville in 1989. Her other children include Gerald Jerry, Anthony Jerry, Thomas Jerry, Priest Jerry and Tenisha Peppers.

Peria and John are the sons of John Wright of Courtland, and were close to their dad growing up, their mom said. 

“They go see him now when they come home,” she noted.

Being only two years apart in age, Peria and John were often mistaken for twins.

“Peria and John were inseparable growing up.  When Peria got hurt, John would cry. When John got hurt, Peria would cry.”

The brothers enjoyed hunting, fishing and riding horses at their rural home on McNeely Road near Courtland. The two use to show horses when they were younger.

It was the junior high years when they became interested in playing football.

“Their dad didn’t want them to play,” said Oneithia. “We had horses, chickens, dogs, goats and more. He wanted them to stay home so they could water and feed all the animals. He worked late at night so I would do all of their chores as far as feeding the animals in order for them to play. He never knew I was doing all that for them. I was in and out of the house a lot but they never missed a meal.”

Onethia attended every single game while the two brothers played at South Panola.

“When they were on the field, they’d always look up in the stand to make sure I was there,” she said.

Then came the University of Mississippi for both sons. Peria signed first because he was a year ahead. Oneitha attended all of John’s games on Friday nights and then went to the home games at Ole Miss on Saturdays. A year later John followed his brother’s footsteps by signing with Ole Miss.

“They were always close growing up so I knew wherever Peria went John would end up going. Both brothers played in the 2009 Cotton Bowl game in Dallas, Texas and that was so exciting. They tried to pick me up and put me on the field after the game but the guards stopped them.”

The day finally came when the brothers would go separate ways and make a life of their own. Draft day it was. Peria would get the call he long awaited from the Falcons.

“Peria decided not to go to New York City for the draft. He told me everything wasn’t promised to you and people were just guessing so he decided to wait it out in Hattiesburg. My daughter and I were in Memphis. I was lying across the bed when they called Michael Oher’s name and everybody else was up front. I jumped up and said ‘Peria is going to be next.’

Then everybody ran back there where I was saying they had called his name. I said no but about that time my cell phone rang and it was Peria. He said, ‘Mom I just want you to be the first to know that I’m going to the Atlanta Falcons.’ “

He called back a few minutes later and told his mom she had an hour to get ready. A limousine was sent for Tenisha and Oneithia to take them to the Memphis airport where they boarded a private jet in which Peria was already a passenger. It was Oneithia’s first flight. She said she was so nervous she couldn’t eat the steaks that were served.

The crew arrived at Chateau Elan, the exclusive Atlanta area resort, at 2 a.m.

“We all went to our own private rooms and Peria’s room was a lot bigger than ours. My bed was king size with nine pillows. I had never seen nine pillows on a bed before. It was a beautiful place. When we woke up they had reporters waiting to talk at 7. It was so overwhelming. They treated us first class all the way. They had golf carts pick us up every time and cooked whatever we wanted to eat.”

Peria and his family moved to Atlanta after he bought a house. He has two daughters, ages five and four, and an infant son.   

John made his way to into the NFL as a Dolphin.

“We went to Peria’s house for the draft. When the Dolphins called John’s name, I couldn’t do anything but cry. I was thinking my baby is grown and gone.

“John told me that the two of them had played together all of their lives but it was time for Peria to be Peria and John to be John.”

John, she said, loves Miami and has a condo on the 18th floor overlooking the beach.

“I don’t like all that water and I don’t like flying over it for sure. I’ll go out on his balcony when I’m there and John will be swimming. I always think about sharks being in it.”

With the two brothers being 10 hours away and in a different league, their mom says they still talk to each other almost every day.

Peria returned for the 2010 season after having an injury and missing all but two games in 2009. John made his debut as a starter when the preseason started. The two bothers faced off in preseason on August 27 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami where big brother Peria defeated little brother 16-6.  

With a win over the Seattle Seahawks December 19, the Falcons (NFC South) clinched a playoff berth sporting a 12-2 record before this past Sunday’s game.

The Dolphins’ (AFC East) playoff hopes were dashed when they lost to the Bills December 19. They will finish the season Sunday at the New England Patriots.