Offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio has always been teammates with his younger brother Cyrus. Sunday, when the Redskins host the Bills, Cyrus will be an opponent.
For the first time in their lives, brothers Arie and Cyrus Kouandjio will stand on opposing sidelines when the Bills visit FedExField to play the Redskins on Sunday.
This kind of rivalrous family reunion was almost a regular thing when Cyrus, a year younger than Arie, verbally committed to Auburn out of local DeMatha Catholic High School, seemingly in spite of his older brother, who spent five years at Alabama after redshirting as a freshman.
Check out images of rookie offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio during his first few months with the Washington Redskins.
But Cyrus changed his commitment shortly after and joined Arie with the Crimson Tide, where they shared two national championships as teammates. Cyrus, also an offensive tackle, played well enough to leave Tuscaloosa after three years, beating his older brother to the NFL, and was selected in the second round of 2014 Draft.
"Even though I'm his older brother, he has more experience," Arie said of Cyrus. "He's given me a few tips, advice here and there. Things that I can help him out with, I help him out with. Most times we talk about weekly and check in on each other and stuff like that. We used to fight all the time growing up and now we're real close."
That means there's been no friendly trash talk this week. This is unfamiliar ground for the pair, who were both born in Cameroon and moved to Prince George's County at a young age, and both would rather support each other than make bets about whose team will win.
They started playing football in middle school because they were too big and couldn't make the weight limit as younger kids.
"We found a team that didn't have a limit -- that was our first year," Arie said. "Since then, you know, we've been playing, usually tackle. By the time we got to college, that was the first time we ever played together, tackle or left tackle or left guard. It's just amazing."
Their relationship, which would sometimes get heated, as is natural for boys a year apart, changed when Arie left for Alabama.
"I think when I went off to college, it gave both of us some time to cool off," Arie said. "By the time I came back, I missed him so much and he probably missed me so much. It was good."
Cyrus played an important part in guiding Arie through the first rigors of the NFL. He spoke with him the night he got drafted and has continued to advise him, mostly about faith and keeping the right perspective at a new stage in his career.
"He helped me a lot," Arie said. "He kind of game me more direction than anybody kind of gave me since he went through it. Kept my head up when things were looking dark…He was there with me to celebrate when we were doing the fun stuff."
Arie's father is in Cameroon this weekend and won't be able to see his sons play. But his mother, living in Tampa, Fla., along with his younger sister, a rower in high school, and older brother, a medical student, will be making the trip up and be in attendance.
"I'm looking forward to it," Arie said. "I look forward to every game. This game is a little bit better because I get to see my brother…. I wished him the best and he wishes me the best."