Toronto's Rogers Centre will not only host the Bills-Bears game Sunday, but also a de-facto family reunion for Bills safety Jairus Byrd and his father Gill, Chicago's assistant defensive backs/safeties coach.
Jairus said it will be cool to face his dad, and the two plan meet prior to Sunday's game, but he has to maintain his business-as-usual mentality on game day.
Anytime you can go against family members it makes it fun with bragging rights," Jairus said. "(But) it's just another game (and) we need a win. It's just something I'm going to go about and handle in a professional way and just try to get a win."
Gill said any dad would be excited to see his son on an NFL field, and he wishes Jairus the best this weekend – with one reservation.
"I want him to have the best game of his career, in a loss," Gill said. "He understands the rules of engagement; we both are in it to win. He's played well in games and I'd like that to continue in a loss. So it's not hard at all."
The elder Byrd played safety for the San Diego Chargers for 10 seasons (1983-1992) and made the Pro Bowl twice, in 1991 and 1992. His 42 career interceptions and 562 interception-return yards are San Diego franchise records, and last year he was named one of the 50 Greatest Chargers.
Since being drafted by the Bills in the second round out of Oregon in 2009, Jairus has continued his father's legacy on the playing field. His nine interceptions tied for the league lead last season, and earned him a Pro Bowl selection and the runner-up for the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year despite missing the last two games.
The elder Byrd said the most important advice he has given Jairus is that being a great man will transcend in to being a great athlete.
"You're never too old or you never get too good to be coached in this league, and never trade what you want most for what you want for the moment," Gill said. "What you want most is to be a great player. Don't trade it for partying all night, getting hooked up with the wrong crowd, going out, hanging out with the guys, playing video games and not studying tape."
Jairus echoed Gill's advice, saying his dad has been a major influence on his career on and off the field.
"Any time you have experience like that in the league it helps," Jairus said of Gill's playing days. "(Growing up) I just watched him on the field – the way he played the game and what he did. (He taught me) just how to live, just how to be a man – a man of God – and just live the way he lives life."
While Gill's playing days set the bar high for his son, Jairus said his goal is to surpass his father's achievements as a player.
"I'm trying to be better than he (was)… but I'm just going about my business," Jairus said. "We're two different people (and) I'm trying to do what I do."
Gill said he and Jairus talk to each other almost every day, and his son is never shy about asking for advice.
"He always wants to know what he's doing wrong and how he can get better," Gill said. "He wants (me) to tell him, 'Look, you need to do this or do that to improve in your game.' That's great when your son approaches you like that. We're always talking football technique and I'm watching his games and following him. It's a joy."
Jairus reiterated professional integrity is important to the Byrds, and said he fully expects his dad to reveal his strengths and weaknesses as a player to Bears personnel.
"He'll keep it honest," Jairus said. "It's a business and he wants to win the game just like I want to win the game, so I'm sure … he's letting it flow over there."
Marilyn Byrd, Gill's wife and Jairus' mother, records all of her son's games for her husband to watch. She may be the most conflicted person in Toronto on Sunday.
Jairus said he doesn't think she'll pick sides.
"I don't know, that's a question a lot of people have been asking me," he said. "I think she just wants to see a good game, (but) we'll see."
Jairus added he expects his father will have a few coaching tricks up his sleeve this weekend, but thinks the Bills will be prepared.
"Any edge he can get – just (from) knowing me and being around me all my life and everything like that – he's going to try and use," Jairus said. "And it'll make it more sweet when we win."