Sibling rivalries are always fun but there's added stakes this week when brothers James Cook and Dalvin Cook share the field on Sunday as the Bills and Vikings square off in Orchard Park.
James, a 23-year-old rookie with the Bills this season, will play against his brother Dalvin for the first time ever. The two never went head-to-head in growing up or in high school or college due to the four-year age gap between the two. It's an opportunity both brothers have waited their whole lives for.
"It's a dream come true," James Cook said this week. "We both dreamed of being in the NFL. We both just gotta keep grinding, get better and better and keep leaning on each other."
As many as 30 family members are expected to be in attendance in Buffalo for the 'Cook Bowl'. The brothers' mom, Varondria White, told a local reporter in Minnesota that family members will be repping split hoodies to cheer on both James and Dalvin. White has traveled up to Buffalo for all of James' home games this season but additional family will be on-hand to take in the long-awaited game.
"(The hoodies) got a picture of Dalvin on one side and a picture of James on the other, and their names are on the sleeve on the side where their picture is," she said in an interview with TwinCities.com.
James shared this week that he and Dalvin mean everything to each other. The two talk "every day" according to the younger brother, with conversations ranging from life, to music, to football. Dalvin, a 3-time Pro Bowl selection, has long been a role model for James growing up and now the older brother gets to continue to be a mentor to James as he navigates his first season in the NFL.
"He just keeps telling me to stay ready," James said.
The Bills running back has seen his role in the offense grow over the last month of play. Cook has played at least 10 snaps in four consecutive games, combining for 148 total yards and a touchdown during that span.
"It's been good being out there, I just gotta keep building each and every week," he said.
This week, however, the dynamic has been a little different between the two brothers, knowing what's at stake. The FaceTime and texting between them has shifted to more trash talk than brotherly advice.
"I'll talk to him. Just call him and mess with him and see where his head is at," Dalvin Cook told the Vikings media this week.
Still, Dalvin also expressed his eagerness to share the same field with his brother and thinks James is in the right spot to be able to succeed in the NFL.
"He's in a great place. I just think he's still got plays to make down the line; he's going to get an opportunity to do that. Just happy for him to be in the NFL with me," Dalvin said.
This weekend in the NFL features more than one entertaining family matchup. Brothers Amon-Ra and Equanimeous St. Brown face off when the Lions and Bears meet. Also cousins Nick Chubb (Browns) and Bradley Chubb (Dolphins) will share the field at the same time with Nick at running back and Bradley at linebacker.
There have only been two occasions in the Super Bowl era in which two brothers each scored a touchdown in the same game: Kevin and Andre Dyson on Sept. 22, 2002 (Cleveland at Tennessee) and Willie and Terry Jackson on November 5, 2000 (San Francisco at New Orleans).
During Good Morning Football on NFL Network this week, former NFL cornerback Jason McCourty reflected back on his time when he got to play against his twin brother Devin McCourty and why he's excited to see the 'Cook Bowl' unfold.
"I remember the first chance I got to play against my brother (Devin). We were both captains, we were at the coin toss. I want to see their interactions before the game, during the game, after the game. It's a really cool experience for them and their family," he said.
James Cook said that it'll be all business on the field when the game starts but afterwards, the brothers will exchange jerseys, spend time with their family and soak up the experience.
With the status of Bills QB Josh Allen still in question due to an elbow injury, there's a chance Case Keenum could start against Minnesota. Keenum, a former Viking, has now played alongside both Cook brothers and likes what he sees with the running back in Buffalo.
"We've got Cook 2.0 over here. Oh, he's great. I'll take our guy," Keenum said with a smile.