On one side will be Clay Matthews, the Green Bay Packers' Pro Bowl outside linebacker.
On the other side will be Casey Matthews, the younger brother of Clay and a backup linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles.
And in the middle of this pregame family reunion will be the Matthews' parents, Leslie and Clay Jr., the legendary former NFL linebacker and a seminal figure in one of football's royal families.
"My mom has already asked for a photo opportunity," Clay Matthews III said on Thursday. "We'll try and get her down — mom and dad. It should be fun. I got to play against my brother twice and went 1-1 in college. It's a pretty rare occurrence. Obviously, you see it with the Manning brothers, and I'm sure there's a few others around the league, but it'll be fun. I think it'll make for a great story to tell when you're older. I'm looking forward to it and I hope he makes some plays."
As it was with Clay, the name "Matthews" on the back of the jersey didn't create extra pressure on Casey.
"There's always a few people that talk," Casey said during a Wednesday conference call. "‘Did you have a choice? Did you have to play football?' I've kind of heard the ‘family business' one. Our parents, they did a good job of giving us a choice to be whatever we wanted to be. Obviously, we were around football so much when we were kids. I guess it just made it easier in choosing to play. We've both been pretty fortunate to get this far in our careers. Obviously, it's not very common that people make it to the NFL but having two brothers in the same family – same thing with my dad and my uncle – we're just fortunate."
To be sure, the last name created expectations. Clay Jr. was a three-time All-Pro and 19-year NFL veteran. Grandpa Clay also played in the NFL, his four-year career with the 49ers interrupted by a stint as a paratrooper in the Korean War. Uncle Bruce Matthews also played 19 seasons and was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
"You hear it from the fans, because that's just what you're going to hear, but I don't hear it as much as I used to," Casey said. "Clay's obviously having a great career so far. You're going to hear it wherever you go but you put pressure on yourself to be the best football player you can be. Obviously, me watching my brother and I'm around him so much in the offseason, that you pick up little things, you learn things from him. He's having so much success that anything you can learn, you take it and you see if you can apply it to your game."
The Packers' Matthews played for USC. The Eagles' Matthews played for Pac-12 rival Oregon. The Eagles' coach, Chip Kelly, was the coach at Oregon, so he's been a part of much of Casey's career.
Casey and Clay at the 2011 ESPYs. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
"The great thing about Casey that we talked about earlier is Casey's the same guy every single day," Kelly said during his conference call. "You know exactly where he is, exactly what he's all about. I'm sure Clay's the same way. I know Casey's dad real well because when he was coaching high school ball he'd come up to watch us practice in Oregon. Just a special, special family."
While the Packers selected Clay in the first round in 2009, Casey fell to the fourth round in 2011. He started three games as a rookie and one game in 2012. With the hiring of Kelly, the Eagles went to a 3-4 scheme. Casey is a backup inside and outside. He's seen little action on defense — 50 snaps, according to the Eagles' tally — but is third on the team with seven special-teams tackles.
"Real versatile player, the only guy who's really kind of playing both positions," Kelly said. "Outstanding special teams player for us. I was fortunate enough to have Casey when I coached at Oregon. He's got everything you're looking for in a football player. He loves the game. He plays the game because he loves it, not because of what it gets him. Obviously, he has an unbelievable family with his dad and his brother and uncle and the whole crew. He's just awesome to be around."
Casey downplayed the meaning of this brother-against-brother matchup, instead turning the focus to how this game will impact both teams in the NFC playoff race. Since they won't play a snap against each other, there are no family bragging rights at stake.
"No, not really," Clay said if the brothers, when little kids, talked about playing each other in the NFL. "But I think it was in college, when we were on special teams playing against each other, we tried to figure out where he was going to line up, where I was going to line up, but it doesn't look like we'll get to go against each other. But I'm OK with that."
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