John Niyo and Justin Rogers talk about the Lions-Bengals game in Cincinnati on Sunday. Detroit News
Allen Park — This is the time of year where families come together to celebrate the holidays, but brothers Graham and Ryan Glasgow have other plans for the weekend.
For the first time in their professional careers, the two are likely to repeatedly lock horns at the line of scrimmage, the culmination of their longstanding sibling rivalry, when the Detroit Lions travel to Cincinnati Sunday to take on the Bengals.
Graham, the Lions second-year offensive lineman, will be tasked with blocking his brother, a rookie defensive tackle with the Bengals. And the relationship is what you’d expect from brothers — a mixture of love, pride and relentless competitiveness.
It dates back to their youth, when the pair would take part in football games in the family’s backyard or one-on-one basketball games in the driveway.
“There was a couple times people get thrown in the pond if tempers flared,” Ryan told local Cincinnati reporters. “I have ended up in the pond. I think everyone has ended up in the pond at some point.”
Asked who was the better basketball player, Graham doesn’t hesitate declaring himself the best, at the same time acknowledging Ryan would disagree.
Graham holds one win that can never be disputed. At the Senior Bowl in January, Ryan said one of his goals was to get drafted higher than Graham, who was taken in the third round (95th overall) by the Lions in 2016. That didn’t work out as planned as Ryan fell to the fourth round, where the Bengals snatched him up with the No. 138 selection.
The parents are going to be in attendance Sunday and Graham anticipates there will be some anxiety in the stands, but he’s eagerly looking forward to going toe-to-toe with Ryan, who has averaged 26 snaps per game and recorded 21 tackles in his first season.
“I don’t think my grandma or my parents think it will be fun,” Graham said. “I think it will be a good time.”
Graham said the two talk on the phone almost every day and that hasn’t changed this week, other than he’s been throwing some playful barbs at Ryan when he notices something during film study.
One thing for certain is what Graham is seeing from Ryan on film is different than what he remembers on the practice field when the two were at the University of Michigan.
“I know what Ryan did in college,” Graham said. “Last time I played against him at all was nearly two years ago, a year and a half ago. He’s gotten better since then and I’ve gotten better since the last time he played me. It’s just something where you need to gauge where he’s at on the tape.”
But when you strip away the jokes — like when Graham definitively declares himself his parents’ favorite — you find the family pride.
“I’m very happy for Ryan,” Graham said. "I think he’s doing very well for being a rookie D-tackle. It’s something I’m very proud of him. I know my family is very proud of him.”
Just don’t translate that kindness for weakness. Graham said he’s going to treat his brother like he would like any other opponent, even if the blocking assignment calls for him to go low.
“Yeah, I’d cut (block) Ryan,” Graham said with a smirk.