Ray Rice and Courtney Greene have known each other nearly their entire lives.
The two New Rochelle, N.Y., natives went to elementary school together, middle school together and high school together. The running back and safety won a state championship together their junior season, and then when it came time for the two football stars to pick a college they both decided on Rutgers University.
Coincidence? Probably not.
Rice left college a year early and, as we all know, was a second-round pick of the Ravens in the 2008 draft. Greene was then taken by the Jaguars a year later in the seventh-round of the 2009 draft.
The best friends will square off on the football field Monday when the Ravens head down to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars, marking the first time the longtime teammates have opposed each other since childhood. Making that meeting even more significant is that it will happen in primetime in front of a national television audience.
"It would've been great if my high school coach could've been down," Rice said today. "I think it's the first time that two guys from the same town, same elementary school, middle school, high school - especially up from where we're from - get a chance to play against each other on 'Monday Night Football.' It's going to be great for our town, New Rochelle, just to see two guys that ... the odds were against us, but now we're playing on 'Monday Night Football.' It's pretty cool."
Rice and Greene, a strong safety who started 11 games for the Jaguars last year, are so close, in fact, that they have the same tattoo on the inside of each of their left arms.
The tattoo reads "WAWG", an acronym which Rice said stands for "We All We Got."
The two men talk often, sharing stories about their NFL experiences, but also just about life in general. Despite the geographic distance between them, they remain close to this day, largely because, Rice says, they consider each other closer to family than friends.
"We're brothers," Rice said. "Everything about us is brotherhood. Regardless of the situation, we're always going to be brothers, on and off the field. This thing that we're building, it's so much bigger than football. Football is just a part of our life that we love doing. We love the game of football, but the brotherhood that we built, it's a lot bigger than that."