Kalils taking sibling rivalry to new level

Matt Kalil will face his brother Ryan's team for the first time in their careers. With a father that played professionally and was a my-way-or-the-highway personal coach growing up, Sunday's game will be a family affair with some rivalry thrown in for good measure.

Matt Kalil says he is more aggressive than his older brother Ryan, who played in three consecutive Pro Bowls (2009-2011) for the Carolina Panthers, and Matt doesn't mind if his brother sees that statement before their teams face each other for the first time in their careers.

That was just one of several pokes you would expect from a pair of brothers that grew up playing football under the watchful eye and tutelage of a their father Frank, who played center at Arkansas and Arizona, was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1982 and played for the USFL's Arizona Wranglers in 1983 and Houston Gamblers in 1984.

"My brother is a little more – when the play is done, he's done with the play. He's has a little more of a nicer side to him," Matt said. "I'm the one usually getting the personal fouls and stuff – I'm not proud of that, but I like to play more aggressive and get after guys. That doesn't say my brother doesn't. I think I get a little more nasty out there, so I'll say that. I hope he sees that."

Matt can spout off to his brother these days. He paid his dues at a park near their home in Corona, Calif., when Matt was just beginning high school and Ryan was going to be a bigshot at USC.

Back then, Frank would bring his boys to the park and "play" football. It had a little different meaning for a former professional football player with two big sons.

"For my dad, ‘Let's play football' means let's go do kick steps and let's work O-line drills," Matt said when he was at the NFL Scouting Combine in February 2012. "My first time going to Servite (High School in Anaheim), I tried to play tight end as a freshman and my dad went on the field and said, ‘No, he's playing left tackle.' That pretty much ended that dream."

Matt said his dad spent "hours on end" trying to hone his blocking technique, watching film and critiquing his play while trying to make him better. However, Frank never forced his sons to play football.

"It's something we always wanted to do," Matt said. "He just said if we ever wanted his help, it's going to be his way or he's not going to help us. That's what he always made very clear. Football has always been a sport we loved to play. I've been playing since I was 8 years old, Junior All-American Corona Charger. I've been playing this game for a while and I've always loved it."

So has Ryan, who blazed the way for Matt. The younger offensive lineman followed his older brother through high school, to USC and then to the NFL. Matt, however, has joined Ryan among the ranks of Pro Bowl offensive linemen.

"I think at first it was pressure, but I kind of turned that into motivation. I wanted to match that or do better. He's always setting the bar so high, it always keeps me motivated and play with that little chip on my shoulder that I always want to do better than him," Matt said. "I'm sure he wants to do better than me. That's how we are. We're good competitors and it's that little sibling rivalry we've always had since we were younger."

It may be a rivalry, but it's a friendly one these day. Even helpful.

After serving as Ryan's "one-on-one dummies and getting tossed around, bloody knees and all that" almost a decade ago at their neighborhood park, things are a bit more educational now. They study each other's film and offer advice.

This will be the first time they play each other. But Matt has dibs on the family cheering section this Sunday, at least most of them, including his mom, dad and sister Danielle, the latter who will sing the National Anthem before Sunday's game. The sister-in-law, Ryan's wife, and their two kids may be harder to convince to wear purple.

"This is my home game so they're wearing Vikings gear," he said of his parents and sister.

Frank will probably even lighten up on the advice now that both of his sons have been named to the Pro Bowl.

"Maybe because we're so much bigger and he's a little more scared to get in our faces, but I think probably after I got drafted (the advice dwindled)," Matt said. "He still coaches, but I think he figures since I got this far I know what I'm doing now. But he's one of the only guys that's not going to be a ‘yes guy.' He's going to tell me how it is and tell me how I played. Maybe the first couple games I played bad and he'll call me up: ‘What the hell were you doing?' He's always there to coach me; he's never going to B.S. me. If there's any critic that I'll really listen to, it's him and all his advice."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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