Identical twins Rob and Robert Brown have played on the same football teams from Pop Warner through Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky.
On Saturday night in Kennewick, Rob will don his Tri-Cities Fever uniform and Robert will put on his Spokane Empire jersey.
“First time in our lives we’ll be playing against each other,” Robert said.
They’ll do it again next week when Tri-Cities visits Spokane. Several family members will be on hand for that contest, but first up is Saturday’s 7 p.m. kickoff at the Toyota Center in the second of four meetings between the Indoor Football League rivals.
“I have that competitive feeling but you still have that feeling of, ‘OK this is my brother, my identical twin so I don’t want him to get too hurt,’ ” Robert said. “But we’re going to hit.”
It’s part of the job for Robert, who is a defensive back, and Rob, a running back for the Fever. Rob was in Spokane’s training camp but the Empire kept Trevor Kennedy, who leads the IFL with 19 touchdowns.
“When we let Rob go, Tri-Cities made a wise decision to scoop him up,” Empire coach Adam Shackleford said. “It was just a numbers thing here.”
Rob has played in the last three games for Tri-Cities (3-4). He has 79 yards rushing, 77 receiving and four touchdowns. Robert has 32 tackles, two interceptions and three pass break-ups.
The two have been texting back and forth all week.
“I always have the upperhand on him,” said Robert, who goes by “Bert” to avoid confusion with his brother’s first name. “I made his mouth bleed one time in high school so I hold that over him a lot.”
Spokane (5-1) holds a 60-51 win over the Fever in the season opener. The Empire has won three straight, the last two by a combined 45 points.
Every Tri-Cities game has been decided by less than 10 points. The Fever has won three of their last five, including a pair of narrow victories over winless Colorado. They’re No. 8 in scoring offense (41.3 points), second in scoring defense (42.3) and they’ve forced 20 turnovers.
“We have to play them four times,” Empire receiver JJ Hayes said. “We have to come prepared because we know they’re going to be prepared.”
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