ST. LOUIS -- According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, more than 360 sets of brothers played in the NFL. Even so, the brotherly showdown that will happen Sunday is rare.
When St. Louis takes the field against Chicago, Rams left defensive end Chris Long will be lined up very close to Bears rookie left guard Kyle Long.
"They're going to smell each other's breath," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "They're about a yard apart, and there'll probably be some contact on occasion.
"It's a great thing for the family. It's a great thing for the National Football League when you get that kind of situation going on. But when it comes down to it, kickoff, both players are doing their best to win regardless of (the) matchup. I'm just going to ask big brother not to get caught taunting little brother."
Because of the unique matchup, Fox TV suggested that studio analyst Howie Long take the day off for the first time in his 20 years with the network so he could be in St. Louis to watch his sons play. He will be in an Edward Jones Dome suite with wife Diane, son Howie Jr., and about 40 other family and friends. Howie Jr. is also getting the day off from his position as an intern in football operations with the Oakland Raiders.
Howie Long Sr. told ESPNChicago.com, "(Fox Sports) said, 'This is so special, so unique. We want you and Diane and your family to be there together.' (We've talked about) understanding the significance of the moment and taking a mental Polaroid in your head, to take a second and enjoy it because the next minute will be here quickly, and you don't know when you'll be down this road again. I know I'll be trying to take a Polaroid of this."
While the brothers won't be lined up opposite each other, they are on the same side of the line. With the way the Rams do "games" on the line with Long stunting, they could bump heads.
Asked about potentially being responsible for his brother, Kyle Long said, "Yeah, he'll definitely be in my peripheral. I'll see him and I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to throw a couple wrinkles in where he's lined up over top of me to try and get me out of my element. But, it's still football. There's still assignments that need to be executed.
"Just going to try and stick to the basics, stick to my techniques and try to get the job done up front. The goal is to get out of there with the win. So, the beautiful thing will be getting to hug my brother afterwards and seeing him before the game in warm-ups."
Chris Long tried to downplay the brother-brother angle while acknowledging how special it is and how proud he is of his younger brother.
"He's had some bumps in the road, but he fought through it," Chris said. "It's a nice time for the family, but the emotions have to be so tough for my parents. But I've played against my best friends before. It's weird at first, but when the whistle blows, it's time to roll."
As Howie Long Sr. said, "I'm always mindful of how the Mannings feel, but Peyton is not hitting Eli, and, trust me, I'm not sure what we're going to be feeling on Sunday. I'm nervous every Sunday. I have a hard time when they're playing simultaneously. Hopefully Chris doesn't reduce down over the guard a lot."
Kyle Long told ESPNChicago.com, "It's going to be awesome. I sent him a text the other day saying something like, 'How pumped are you for next week?', and then I was like, yada, yada, yada and we were talking smack, and he said something like, 'When I beat you, my dance will be directed at you.'"
And Chris Long? He finally admitted, "It will be a lot of fun, but as much as I'm going to try to treat it like a normal game, I'm a little torn. When you get on (the) field, it's such a violent, competitive game and winner take all. It's a blurred line where you're trying to soak it in and enjoy the moment and think about how many people get to do this, but also play the game to the last play and take no prisoners."